Star Chart, For All Your Astronomical Needs![App]
AR apps or augmented reality apps are really starting to show their worth now, the idea of pointing your device at the real world and getting all the information you might need (such as the name of the building in view, or info about a famous landmark) is enticing. While proper AR apps for daily use are still not as good as they can be, you can still get a piece of AR if you’re fascinated by our Universe. I’m talking about astronomy here folks, and two of the best apps on the Android market to view the heavens above is Google’s Skymap and Starchart.
This time we’ll be focusing on Star chart which is paid ($3.14) whereas Skymap is free and lacks a lot of features.
Once you’ve downloaded the application and run it, you can point the device to the sky and it will tell you all the information you need to know such as the names of the stars in view, planets and other heavenly bodies. You can do this with Google’s app too but what really sets Star Chart apart is that it has a lot more to offer.
First of all, you have graphical representations of all the constellations in view, so you’ll have eagles and crabs and fish and what not when looking at the sky, with names of the stars that make up those constellations. You can tap any celestial body and get information about it. For example in the picture below if you tap on Spiral Galaxy you get information such as the distance in light years, diameter in light years etc. If you are viewing planets, it additionally mentions the distance from the Sun aswell as the Earth which shows that the developers have really thought about the little things that make Star chart the perfect sky viewing app.
You can also zoom into the map, view what the night sky looks like on the other side of the planet by pointing the device downwards. Its pretty accurate too but you do need GPS so that Star chart can keep track of everything especially your location. In my case, Star chart was quite inaccurate when I launched it but once you go into the settings menu and specify your position, it works just great.
You can also tweak other settings in the menu such as which objects you want to view. You can turn on/off Messier objects, planets, stars and constellations You can turn off AR view aswell and move the screen about with your finger which is a nice touch since you might look a bit of an idiot using AR infront of people.
Overall I’d say the app works just great, you do have to pay for it ofcourse when you can get other similar applications for free but Star Chart is worth it. It’s a well thought out app with great accuracy and features and the visuals are excellent too. Instead of just seeing little dots on the map, stars grow with a twinkle and planets are miniature models of what they actually look like, it’s a small thing to mention, but it makes the interface all the more beautiful.