Review of astronomy apps

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by dvs, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. dvs macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2006
    There are now seven serious star-charting apps, but they're hard to find on the app store and their strengths and weaknesses aren't always apparent. So I've written a detailed review which is posted here:

    Hope others will find this useful.
  2. Stocktrader macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2007
  3. vw195 macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2008
    I enjoyed your review. Thanks for taking the time to do them. I did find it rather interesting that you gave Vito Star Walk such good ratings. I played with AstoNavigator on the WM platform and was underwhelmed by the lack of features. If the iPhone version is similiar then I would not be happy with that product at all.

    I ended up buying starmap recently and I didn't realize the milky way was off to the left and that you could change the ground to opaque. Thanks for your helpful reviews.
  4. LostLogik macrumors 6502a

    Jul 9, 2008
    Nice review. Thanks for sharing.

    Astronomy apps are one of those things that I always gaze at lovingly but as they would never get more than the odd outing it's difficult to justify dropping the dosh at this stage. Noting your comments it will probably pay to wait a little longer anyway. :)
  5. opticalserenity macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2007
    This comes just one day after I buy Distant Suns, but I love the app. Thanks for a great review.
  6. SamLee macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2009
    I have both AstroNavigator installed on my old WM device ETEN Glofiish and this new StarWalk app on my iPhone.
    IMHO they're two different apps and it's not only about cutting-edge graphics.
    The thing is in more detailed features and more profound astronomical info.
    Of course I will not label StarWalk as an astronomical pro app, but for basic astronomy education for me it's the best iPhone app. And it has little in common with WM AstroNavigator.
  7. KRAPPS macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2008
    LOL .... holy krap! ... that is a helluv a write-up!! ... you are having are the astro-star geeks jumping for joy ... seriously, great reviews and I'll for sure stumble it!
  8. aluren macrumors 65816

    Sep 9, 2008
    awesome review! just what i was looking for!! thanks.
  9. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
  10. MaxPower49 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 11, 2008
    Wow... great review. Looks like Star Walk is the best value. I might grab it.
  11. dvs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2006
    new version of Distant Suns

    Well, my review is already out of date. A new version of Distant Suns has just been posted and I've tried it out very briefly. This version solves the time-setting problem by adding a nice interface for either jumping in time or time-lapse animation. I'll try to get the review updated by next week.
  12. gekkota macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2008
    Thank you so much for spending the time to give us such a great comparison of the different apps.
    I have been debating between Star Walk and Distant Suns for quite a while now--I'll wait for your updated review of the hopefully new-and-improved version of Distant Suns before I decide.

    I don't know anything about astronomy, so a lot of the more detailed info is just mumbo-jumbo to me! All I really want to do is be able to select my city (Honolulu), date, and time and be able to see some of the constellations overhead. My concern about Star Walk is that the screenshots seem so crowded with millions of other distant stars. Might to too hard to pick out what I am actually looking for. I guess that's why I am leaning toward Distant Suns, but I will wait for your review.

    Again, your hard work is very much appreciated!
  13. dvs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2006
    For your purpose, any of the seven apps except Uranus should be fine. You can easily ignore all the extra information in Distant Suns, though some of the other features may make it seem complex. And you're right about the crowded star fields of Star Walk. Besides these, you should probably consider GoSkyWatch, iAstronomica, and iStellar. All three are simpler than Distant Suns, and two of them will show a full-sky view which I find useful. Starmap is more complex but should still be usable by beginners.

    You're fortunate to live in Hawaii where so much of the southern sky is visible. I've been there once and it's the farthest south I've ever traveled. Made a point of seeing the Southern Cross, Alpha and Beta Centauri, and the spectacular stretch of the Milky Way around these stars. Unfortunately, several of the star charting apps are biased against the southern sky when it comes to constellation artwork and/or deep-sky objects.

    Best wishes!
  14. nickspohn macrumors 68040


    Jun 9, 2007
    You should do this with other apps. You might have something going for you here.

    Good work.
  15. kilobytedump macrumors member

    Sep 17, 2007
    If you are just looking for a nice simple app to keep updated on the transparency of the night sky (i.e. when to get the scope out) check out my app "Skies".

    A GPS enabled version is in review now.
  16. SamLee macrumors newbie

    Jan 15, 2009
    to gekkota:

    You can easily zoom your screen with your fingers and choose the star you want to, the matter of a sec ))
  17. gekkota macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2008
    A few years ago, I was walking in an old lava field in the Hawaii Volcanoes Nat'l Park on the Big Island, and I will never forget my amazement at how distinct and expansive the Milky Way appeared in the pitch black night. Away from the glare of the city, that ribbon of light was awe-inspiring!

    One last question-- and I am still leaning toward Distant Suns-- can I manually enter my location, or do most of the apps rely on the "location services" via wifi on the iPod Touch? Most of my star-hunting will be out of range of wifi, of course...
  18. gekkota macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2008
    Thanks! I'll keep that in mind...:)
  19. rburly macrumors 6502a


    Jan 15, 2009
    Star Walk is a fantastic app. I bought it over the weekend and it's as good as your review. Glad I bought it.

    Great job with the reviews, by the way. :)
  20. b.c. macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2008
    ah ha! I've been hoping to find something like this! thanks for putting this review together, I will be taking a detailed look...
  21. dvs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2006
    All of the seven apps will let you manually enter a location, either by selecting from a list of cities or by setting the longitude and latitude values. For most purposes you don't need to be too precise about the location, so either method will do. But if you need high precision away from major cities, or if you travel at sea, obviously the long-lat method is preferable. Distant Suns actually lets you do it either way.
  22. gekkota macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2008
  23. Resist macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    I just bought Star Walk but can't figure out what the red circle and square in space are. The instructions suck and there is no flip to the landscape mode.
  24. dvs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2006
    The red circles mark zenith and nadir. I have no idea what the red square is supposed to be. You're right about the instructions, but I was able to figure out almost everything by just playing with the app, with no instructions at all. Not sure what you mean about landscape mode; this app always uses landscape orientation.
  25. dvs thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2006
    I just figured out the red and green squares in Star Walk: They mark the south and north galactic poles.

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