Top 7 Android Apps for Astronomy Enthusiasts

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March 17, 2014
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Android OS used to get a lot of flak for its app ecosystem not being on par with that of iOS, but this scenario is changing quickly. Today, there’s a number of Android-exclusive apps in the Play Store just like there used to be iOS-only apps in the App Store. Android is picking up the pace in almost all categories, and the department of Astronomy-related apps is one of them.

A lot of applications exist for Astronomy enthusiasts, hobbyists, students and professionals in the Google Play Store. You might have to pay your way out of the free-version restrictions for some of them but more than a few of them offer a lot for their free versions as well. We have compiled a list of Android Apps for Astronomy Enthusiasts and here are our top picks for the stargazers among you. Sift through, download and enjoy!

7. Best of Astronomy

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It is a research-based app that provides scholarly and Wikipedia articles and resources (mostly external) for researchers, students and enthusiasts. The user can create sort of a booklet for easily-accessible information by taking notes, adding information, pages and pictures. A few things that mar the experience are full-screen ads and slow operation (it relies on an active internet connection completely for the functionality).

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Free | User Rating: 4.0/5.0 (175 votes) | Our Rating: 7.1/10

Download this app from Play Store here: http://goo.gl/MxfUkn

6. Astro Panel

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It is an astronomy and weather forecast application that provides information regarding:

  • Relative humidity, wind and temperature estimates and forecast
  • Cloud cover and atmospheric sight/transparency
  • Lunar phases and altitude
  • Localized information regarding ISS passes

Like most astronomy apps, GPS is required for precise operation but for the non-GPS devices, the location can also be entered manually.

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Free | User Rating: 4.3/5.0 (540 votes) | Our Rating: 8/10

Download this app from Play Store here: http://goo.gl/qzVqoP

5. SatTrack

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SatTrack is a tracking and observation assistant tool for astronomers. It gives the location and direction information relative to the user’s location regarding the satellites that are going to pass by, and the iridium flares that are viewable from, that particular location. The real-time data is fetched from heavens-above.com. Moreover, a compass is also provided to correctly estimate the position of satellites and flares.

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Free | User Rating: 4.4/5.0 (1,040 votes) | Our Rating: 8.2/10

Download this app from Play Store here: http://goo.gl/WnA5V

4. SkEye

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SkEye is a virtual planetarium app which shows the sky and relative positions of stars, planets and messier objects using gyro and accelerometer sensors of the device. It best works on tablets, but smartphone support is also pretty good.

Some of the major features of the app are real-time azimuth and altitude values and coordinates, time machine to view the sky on a particular time in past or future, night mode, search feature and catalogue of messier objects, planets, bright objects (mNGC) and select moons. Another significant offering of the app is alignment guide. It works by selecting the object to align to and then strapping the device—on which the app is running—to the telescope’s OTA (Optical Tube Assembly).

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Free | User Rating: 4.5/5.0 (4,532 votes) | Our Rating: 8.4/10

Download this app from Play Store here: http://goo.gl/kysRz

3. NASA

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The official NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) app for Android is a resourceful encyclopedia of all-things-space. The user interface is a bit old-century and it needs an active internet connection for proper functioning but the information it provides is worth it and the available content is updated regularly. There are thousands of images (12,600+) and videos (10,300+) in the catalogue and other available resources includes:

  • Launch schedules, details and sighting possibilities for NASA space missions
  • A map of NASA’s research centers and launch sites
  • Information regarding LSP and ELV programs
  • Latest news and feature reports regarding NASA’s research and programs
  • Official NASA account’s tweets, TV and Radio feed

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Free | User Rating: 4.4/5.0 (12,893 votes) | Our Rating: 8.6/10

Download this app from Play Store here: http://goo.gl/QsWfN

2. Star Chart

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Star chart is hand-down the best Augmented Reality (AR) tool for stargazers, which provides a minimally-designed UI with excellent experience and everything a hobbyist could ask for. Some of the highlight features of the app include:

  • AR mode that makes the stargazing experience come to life with real-time positioning and immediately-available information.
  • Voice commands like “Where is the Andromeda galaxy?”, “Go to the moon” etc.
  • Ads-free, offline operation.
  • Virtual tours of heavenly bodies from Solar System.
  • Details of several hundred stars, constellations, planets and other messier objects with Search feature.
  • Time shift of up to 10,000 years in past or the future.
  • Toggles for types of objects you want to view in the sky.

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Paid upgrades unlock even more features like real-time tracking and sighting reports of meteors, comets, satellites (ISS, Hubble and more), and extended details of the Solar System. A premium version of the same app is also available with all upgrades included with the package. It is available for both iOS and Android platforms.

Free | User Rating: 4.2/5.0 (31,596 votes) | Our Rating: 8.8/10

Download free version of “Star Chart” from Play Store: http://goo.gl/y1WL7
Download premium version of “Star Chart” from Play Store: http://goo.gl/e2X8us

1. Night Sky Tools

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“Night Sky Tools” is an all-in-one tool for the astronomers and it blows the competition out of the water. This app features an excellent suite of multiple calculation, positioning and tracking tools. It also features a detailed catalogue of messier objects, stars, meteors, eclipses, meteor shower, moon calendar and more. In fact, there are so many features in this app that it is not possible to even list them all here. Despite the amount of information, the app is completely free (ad-supported) and if there’s one app in Play Store that truly deserves the ads it shows, it’d be this one.

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Some of the major features of the app are:

  • Daylight map and Weather Forecast
  • Compass
  • Sky Map (a detailed planetarium of the sky), more or less like the Sky Chart
  • Ability to enter the details of astronomy equipment and use those details in calculations
  • Create a log of sightings and observations using the equipment entries and export the log files
  • View the details of upcoming events, sightings, meteor showers, satellites, heavenly bodies and more
  • Caldwell Catalog of nebulae, galaxies and clusters
  • Calculators: Redshift, Telescopy, CCD-R, Optimal F-Ratio, Exposure Times, Atmospheric Extinction, and more
  • Astronomical Constants, Symbols, Glossary, Units and Greek Alphabets
  • … and much, much more!

It is available for Android OS only, and doesn’t require any internet connection for most of the features (it may be required, however, for some features to function properly).

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Free | User Rating: 4.4/5.0 (895 votes) | Our Rating: 9.2/10

Download this awesome app from Play Store here: http://goo.gl/3307uv

Honorable Mentions

Some of the other astronomy apps worth trying are Messier Catalogue (http://goo.gl/nCyJkY), Lunar Phase (http://goo.gl/Bsmj4L), LunaSolCal (http://goo.gl/gcWT2p), and Sun Surveyor (http://goo.gl/abtJNJ). These apps are free, and some of them also have premium versions.

Do give these apps a try and tell us if you like them. Drop a comment below if we missed a favorite one of yours or if you want us to compile a list of the apps from some other category.

— Image credits: Bareck J. DeArk

 
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