The Star Chart astronomy app makes it easy for you to locate, name and explore 100,000+ twinkling stars and planets. This iOS Universal Education app comes with an intriguing Augmented Reality (AR) feature that simulates Space and turns your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into a mapped window view of the visible universe. According to the developer, “Using state of the art GPS technology, an accurate 3D universe, and all of the latest high tech functionality, Star Chart calculates – in real time – the current location of every star, planet and moon visible from Earth and shows you precisely where they are; even in broad daylight!”
By simply pointing your AR enabled device towards the sky, your device will display and chart the celestial bodies found in the sky as seen from your location in the world. You also have the option to manually set a city/country location to see how the night sky looks from other places around the world. In addition to this function, there is a Time Shift feature that allows you to go back and forth in time to see past and future celestial placement patterns.
Since I’m not an astronomy expert by any stretch of the imagination, I used the visible Moon to test the accuracy of the app’s Moon placement. Star Chart mapped it in just the right location and other celestial objects appeared to line up within my view on my iPhone. It was amazing to see everything mapped out on my iPhone screen. The Star Chart app also allows you to zoom and pan the space on your screen for an up close view of any planet or star that catches your eye. But be warned, the moving and spinning effects of your actions can get dizzying.
If you tap on an object, the app will bring up a data box with some basic information and measurements on each of these planets, stars, constellations, and messieurs listed in this Reference app. For any of these terms you aren’t familiar with, there is a glossary in the user manual. I strongly suggest checking out the user manual for direction on how to best use this application.
There is a convenient navigation bar with a selection of categories on the main screen to help you directly find what you’re looking for. These categories are: Planets, Stars, Constellations, Messiers, and Tours. The Tours feature provides an interesting 3D experience of 8 different planets and a Solar Tour as well.
To be honest, Star Chart wasn’t as user friendly as I would have expected and at times found myself frustrated trying to navigate around the app. However, this free Education app has received great overall ratings in the iTunes App Store (4 1/2 stars on 128+ ratings)by other users. This free star gazing app also comes with several in-app purchases that the more serious astronomer may be interested in (ranging from $2.99 – $9.99).
Star Chart is definitely an awe-inspiring app that will open your eyes to the vast universe around you.