Whether you are just starting out with astronomy or have been an avid fan for years, your Android device can be a surprisingly great tool for the field. There are some pretty amazing apps and services on Android for all of you astronomy lovers out there and we are going to be looking at what we consider the very best of them for this post.
I thought we would start simple by keeping things in-house with this app that has been developed by a dedicated Google team. Sky Map is an open source platform that anyone can use as you can find it on the web as well. However, the app can also use your device’s internal compass/GPS in order to show you the location of constellations, stars and planets above you. There are manual controls as well for those who know what they are doing. A tiny yet effective app to start with.
Sky Chart is a very fun application, free with microtransactions. The in-app purchases will allow you to view things like meteor showers, comets and satellites as they are not included in the free version. This app works both in landscape and portrait mode and also uses your device’s location and GPS to show you things about the sky above you.
When you tap on a constellation or planet or whatever else, you will get a pop-up window with some quick information about it. Tapping on it again will show you the object in 3D and you can explore it in a very cool way. There are also voice controls although they are bit funky and do not always work as intended. Finally, there is a night mode that shows you everything in very dark red and black colors so it is easy on your eyes. It is also brilliant for when you want absolutely no light around you, like when you are out camping and stargazing.
This is the most complete offering on this list. Star Walk is an amazing application and the price is not high when you consider the list of features here. With this app, you point your device towards the sky and it uses the internal sensors and gyroscope in order to determine where exactly you are pointing it. It will then show you a brilliant, fully interactive layout of the sky that you can play around with.
Not only can you view information about everything but you can also explore beautiful 3D models of your favorite objects. You can configure your view and depending on your phone’s camera, you will be able to see so many things. In fact, you will be able to choose between seeing what the naked eye sees and get information about that or to search even deeper and get information about distant constellations and planets.
As is the case with Star Chart, there is also a night mode here that works in pretty much the same way. You will also get a lot more configuration and personalization options, even down to the sound effects that the app uses for the various utilities and tools in its arsenal. The one-time purchase is definitely worth it here if your device can use the more advanced features.
We are going to end this post in a different note. Solar Walk is made by Vito Technology, same as Star Walk. This app is aimed at education though and will allow you to learn so much about the solar system that it should really be used in actual schools. Paper-cut objects have nothing on the accuracy and beauty of Solar Walk’s offerings.
If you are using the app in a big screen like a tablet then you are really in luck. Even more so if you are in possession of 3D glasses because the presentations then look simply incredible. The download is quite huge at 300MB and the trial version will only allow you to see Saturn and its moons. Everything else is unlocked through an in-app purchase.