There's been a lot of buzz around the water cooler about events happening in the sky above. Whether you're looking for a meteor shower, searching the night sky for a comet, or getting the low-down on where to watch the solar eclipse, these are the best apps for stargazing.
Star Walk 2
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Star Walk 2 uses location tracking and your phone's gyroscope to show you what's in the sky using augmented reality. Point your phone up to see which stars, planets, and constellations are floating above you. Point your phone downward to see what's in the night sky on the other side of the planet. When you tap a star, you can read up on on more details and check out a 3D model of the celestial body. If you check out the Live Sky feature, you can see what time the sun and moon will rise and set and the current elevation of our closest planets.
If you're looking at a star, planet, or nebula and want to know what it might look like from a different angle, the 3D rendering makes Star Walk 2 a stand-out stargazing app.
- $2.99 - Download now
Sky Guide, design-wise, is a lot like Star Walk 2, but features deep satellite tracking information. If you've ever looked up at the sky and see something that looks like a star slowly moving across the sky, you can use Sky Guide to find out what satellite is hovering overhead. Sky Guide has been updated to include specific details about the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Tap the info button to see what time the eclipse begins, how long it lasts, and how much of it will be visible to you in a specific area. Sky Guide also has a time travel feature so you can go backward or forward in time to see exactly where a star, planet, or satellite will be at any given time.
If you're a satellite chaser and want to know when and where the next one will pass by, grab Sky Guide and start tracking.
- $2.99 - Download now
Night Sky presents satellites and space stations as graphic illustrations, which is a unique and interesting way to see where iconic astronomical laboratories are currently located. It also uses augmented reality to give you a view of the stars above your head and lets you travel through time to see constellations at various points in history or the future. When you tap to see more details, you can scroll through images taken of some planets, starts, and more. Using the lighting filter, you can see what the sky looks like through infrared, ultraviolet, and various wave forms. For a monthly subscription of $1.99 (or $9.99 yearly), you can add a few awesome premium features, like a virtual tour of a moon landing, news about the current conditions in the sky, and more.
Get Night Sky if you've always wanted to see the sky through various light spectrum filters.
- Free - Download now
GoSkyWatch Planetarium displays galaxy information as though you're looking at it through a high-powered telescope. Using augmented reality, it shows you planets, constellations, and other skyward objects when you point your phone to the stars. Instead of focusing in on glossy renderings of constellations, GoSkyWatch tries to keep things as realistic as possible. Objects in the sky are the focus, so you don't get lost trying to figure out which star is where. It's designed to help you track objects with degrees and levels in the sky. So, if you find something in GoSkyWatch, you can note its exact location and enter its coordinates into your telescope and see it with your own eyes, too.
If you're an astronomy buff with a high-powered telescope in your backyard, you'll get a lot of use out of GoSkyWatch Planetarium.
- $3.99 - Download now
With SkySafari 5, you can explore the galaxy like you're on an adventure. When you enter Orbit Mode, you'll be whisked away to the heavens to take a virtual 3D tour of objects in the sky. You can fly around the solar system, taking in the view of stars, planets, nebulae, and more. If you have a telescope, you can use the Plus or Pro versions of SkySafari 5 to control the lineup of your view with meticulous precision. It also uses augmented reality to give you a glimpse at what you're looking at when you point your phone to the sky. When you tap on an object, you can check out images photographed from advanced telescopes and satellites. With help from Sky & Telescope Magazine you can see when cosmic events, like meteor showers and eclipses, are happening.
If you want to feel like you're flying through space when you gaze a the stars, SkySafari will take you on a cosmic adventure.
- $2.99 - Download now
How do you watch the stars?
Do you have a favorite stargazing app you use to keep track of cosmic events? Let us know what it is and why it's special in the comments.
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Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).