It’s hard not to look up at night sometimes and wonder what’s out there, off in the world of unimaginably humungous stars so far away that they appear as mere specks of dust to our eyes — or even just in our planet’s backyard, over on the Moon or Mars. The universe is infinitely vast, and despite millennia of insights from studying the skies as well as the Earth, we’ve barely begun to unlock its many incredible secrets. With these eight apps, you can gaze at the cosmic beauty of the universe and pick up some juicy factoids about the planets, stars, cosmos, and everything in them.
Not so long ago, armchair astronomy used to involve lugging along stacks of charts and flashlights if you wanted to know the name of a star (aside from notables like Polaris and Betelgeuse). The advent of astronomy apps for iOS devices changed all that for the better, but until now, the best ones have emphasized utility over beauty. That all changes with Sky Guide, which achieves a remarkable balance of both.
Readers in the Pacific Northwest and certain portions of the midwest will understand: You hear of an awesome celestial event, set your alarm, wake at 3am, run outside, and it's all clouds as far as the eye can see. Galileo saw moons orbiting Jupiter with just his crummy telescope, but you can't even make out Orion with all the light pollution. Where the heck do you look when you want to even try to find a constellation? You look in the App Store, silly.