Sunday, May 09, 2010

Review: SkyVoyager App for the iPhone

I LOVE my iPhone! It has all of my music, connects me to loved ones near and far in many ways, keep me up-to-date on world news - it's just brilliant. It's also a great astronomy tool, as I have come to determine since purchasing and playing with the SkyVoyager application.

SkyVoyager is called a "dynamic sky simulator" by its developers, Carina Software. So, it's effectively a planetarium program for your iPhone. But it is so reach in features, it takes the concept of "personal planetarium" to the next level. Here are some mouthwatering features that should wet your appetite!

  • Real time view with movement: You get a real-time view of the night sky based upon your exact location. Move your iPhone and the screen represents what you should see in the sky above and in front of you.
  • Detailed information about objects: Touch an object and click on the information symbol, and you get a ton of info about that object including coordinates, discoverer, catalog(s) number and detailed description with links to photos online.
  • Object Finder: Look up an object in the application's wealthy database, select the "center" option and follow the arrow on screen to find the object in the night sky.
  • Real Time Satellite View: I love this! It displays real time positions and movement of satellites in the night sky. I have used this feature a lot and it really works. You see something moving across the sky, then hold up your iPhone and there it is! Tap it to get detailed information about the satellite you're looking at.
  • Search by "What's Up Tonight": You can search for tons of objects in the included catalogs, and the software "bolds" those objects that are currently viewable from your location and time zone. This includes satellites.
  • Different color schemes to suit your needs, including a night vision mode.
  • Scope Control: I haven't tried this yet but you can buy an optional wifi hub for your scope for you to connect with via your iPhone, and control your scope with the SkyVoyager application.

This really is a useful tool. I have used it at star parties to help educate the public, using the detailed notes to talk about specific objects. Admittedly, it also provides some cool "wow" factor to get folks excited about the hobby! I have also used it to help me with my star-hopping when using my 12" Dob. Something really useful is using this app to help me set up my CGEM equatorial mount before dark! I ue it to get a really good idea about where Polaris is before the sun goes down, and this makes for a really easy setup procedure once it does get dark and I don't have to mess too much with centering Polaris in the dark!

For $14.99, this app is worth the price if you're an avid astronomer and have an iPhone. It will make astronomy a lot more fun, help you communicate astronomical ideas and phenomenon during outreach activities and generally accelerate your geekiness!

! Note: I am not affiliated with the folks that make this app! I just love it and wanted to rave about it online :-) ALSO pictures on this post are copyright Carina Software!


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