23 July 2013

Space, the stars, and beyond

My youngest son is studying Space this term, and as a helpful Techie mum, I've been investigating the apps and sites that can help him with his studies.  There really are some brilliant techie tools available for travelling beyond our planet.  These are the ones I chose…


Sky Guide

Just aim your iPhone or iPad at the sky and this app will identify the stars and planets in view.  There’s no setup needed – just tap the compass icon and the app automatically aligns itself with your location.   You can zoom in or out, search for particular planets, stars or constellations and once you’re taken to it on your screen you can also read articles by leading astronomers.  Visually this app is stunning – it has been created using more than 37,000 actual photographs, which also means you can use it night and day.  I only have Wi-Fi on my iPad, so I love that this app doesn't require any internet connection or GPS to function – I can use my iPad to identify the night sky anywhere at any time.  We've been outside every night since I installed this app identifying the stars – great fun!
$1.99 for iPad and iPhone
Skyguide requires a gyroscope to work – so it won’t work with an iPad1 or iPhone 3GS or earlier.


The NASA App features a constantly updating collection of content from NASA – images, videos, articles, Tweets, news reports and live streaming of NASA TV and radio.  Anything new from NASA will appear on the app.  You can read about every NASA mission, view photos from the Mars Rover, amazing images of the stars and planets, close to 10000 videos – just about anything you could possibly think of about space and space travel.  When I first downloaded this app to my iPad it was about two hours before my boys and I put it down.
Free for iOS and Android

Space Images

This app is from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where they control the robotic exploration of space.  From the Categories section you can select your favourite planet, asteroid, or the universe and be taken to the most amazing photos of each – there’s even a 3D category if you have some 3D glasses.  For each image you can also tap the Info icon to read more about it.  The unbelievable photos of planets, moons, galaxies and stars on this app can also be stored on your phone or tablet and used as backgrounds. 
Free for iOS and Android

Google Sky, Google Moon, Google Mars

If you have the latest version of Google Earth on your computer, phone, or tablet, you also have access to Google Sky, Google Moon and Google Mars.  Just select which you want from the top toolbar in Google Earth.

Google Sky

When you first select Sky you’ll be taken to a start screen from where you can visit the Education Centre, Historical Sky Maps, and more.  A good place to start is Welcome to Sky as it will show you how to move around.  You can view the sky above your home, travel through space to planets, view constellations, hear astronomy podcasts, read loads of facts about space, and see live images of galaxies, objects and more from the Slooh Space Camera.

Google Moon

Use the filters on the left side of the screen to view or hide place names, Apollo landing sites, locations, human artefacts and more.  You can take tours of the lunar landing sites, narrated by Apollo astronauts, and view TV footage of Apollo missions.

Google Mars

View recent images from NASA, take an interactive tour of Mars, view 3D rover models and follow their route, and search for and view famous Martian landmarks.

If you can recommend any other Space apps I’d love to hear about them.

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