Watch the Skies!

by wjw on April 14, 2010

While in Portales I got to admire Steve Gould’s new iPad, which I have to say is a lovely, shiny toy that for the most part does nothing that other platforms can’t do better and cheaper. It’s an awkward size and my cargo pants would have to be completely redesigned if I were to carry one around. (And it won’t run Flash, and because it doesn’t have a phone you can’t call for pizza, so what’s the point, really?)

There was one app, though, that nearly had me writing a check to Steve Jobs for five hundred bucks.

It’s a program that will show you whatever’s in the sky directly behind the iPad.

So if you hold the iPad up to Scorpius, it will show the stars of Scorpius, an outline of the constellation, the other stars within the frame, and any planets that may be rambling past the scenery. You can tap on the planets and major stars and nebulae and galaxies and get a closeup view, along with a bunch of data.

It will work in the daytime. It will show you the stars on the other side of the sun or moon. It will look down through the Earth and show you the skies of another hemisphere. If you’re stargazing, you’ll be able to easily identify what you’re looking at, or locate an object so that you can point your telescope at it. And you can dial down the intensity of the screen so it won’t ruin your night vision.

But I didn’t spend the five hundred bucks, so I can’t tell you anymore than this.

David W. Goldman April 15, 2010 at 2:53 am

…my cargo pants would have to be completely redesigned if I were to carry one around…


Chris McLaren April 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

No need to throw apple a chunk of money–there's free software that can do this on a phone that will actually fit into your pants.

dubjay April 16, 2010 at 6:15 am

Well, not =my= phone. But somebody's phone, for sure.

Ken Thomas April 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I've been using Google Sky on my Android phone for a few months now. It is almost unspeakably awesome, and the way it merges relevant tech with astronomy has helped get my teenaged son interested in the night sky to a degree he's never been before.

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