What is the Best iPhone Astronomy App?

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One of the first things I bought from the App Store is a little program called Starmap. I’m an amateur Astronomer, and just love checking things out in the Galaxy. Sometimes when I’m looking at the stars, I don’t know exactly what I’m looking at. That’s where Starmap could come in handy. The best thing about Starmap is that you can take it with you while stargazing, thanks to your iPhone.

Pocket astronomers will find a screen that shows a sky full of planets, visible stars, named stars, galaxies, and nebulae, and coordinates that you can access and search for from an unobtrusive ribbon of icons. Sensitivity to the accelerometer tips the view vertically and horizontally, and you can pinch and pull the screen to get a closer look at the arrangement of the points of light.

It’s a fair and interesting start, if not a bit static, and the land-locked dreamer in me sees many more interactive possibilities as the tools and technology progress–like a real-time night mode that uses the camera as a telescope to automatically fix the star chart around you and a Wikipedia plug-in that spoon-feeds you information about what you’re looking at. You know, the kinds of extras you’d expect from Google Earth.

Indeed, this is a powerful app. The problem is that at times, it’s unresponsive. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just unusable. When it does respond, it responds so slowly, that I can’t even tell if the app is working anymore. That’s inexcusable. For $12.00, I certainly expected more. For an application to behave like this is totally not right. The idea behind Starmap is phenominal, however… it wasn’t programmed very well. When I try to go back to the home page… the iPhone completely locks up.

So there you have it. While the programmers may have had good intentions, they have some work to do for this to be a viable app. Tell me, what other Astronomy app would you recommend for me to try out? If you’ve had a difference experience with Starmap than I did, please let me know.

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19 thoughts on “What is the Best iPhone Astronomy App?”

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  4. Astronamy applications just keep on coming out. I’m amazed of the incredible graphics all of them seem to have. The accuracy of where all these planets and stars are located at certain parts of the day is just amazing. I also enjoy using programs like Stellarium. It is an awsome application that lets you view certain areas of space at certain times of the day. You could even go right to your city and look up. There you can see what constellations and planets are around where you live.

  5. Thanks, Chris, for reviewing this app. As an avid astronomy fan, I was planning on taking the plunge and buy it for my iPod touch, seeing as it’s not able to connect to the Internet when I’m out camping / stargazing. I guess I’ll just have to hold out for the next version and see if it’s been fixed!

  6. I wish I seen this review before I purchased this app :( Your so right i find it’s totally unusable… waste of $$$…

  7. Starmap has come leaps and bounds from it’s original clunky self. I noticed slight lag at the beginning but usually that’s it. Tons of new features and settings and the creator really took early suggestions to heart and tried to incorporate them into the app. You can even overlay red to preserve your night vision. If you like stargazing, or just looking up, it’ll be 12 dollars very well spent.

  8. So far, the best iPhone astronomy software from my personal experience is Star Walk. Its graphics is awesome. I specifically like the Time machine when I spin the day or month wheel and see how the picture of the sky will be changing in the near future.
    Starmap was the first app I bought but is just kept crashing, and it is sooo slow. I can’t use it any more after Star Walk. It is well spent $5.

  9. If speak of the best astro app, i’d certainly say it is Star Walk. It embraces all good features of the old ones and brings new experience to digital star gazing. It is spared of all the bugs people continue cimplaining on, like poor location or sluggishness. And it also very cheap. Smart choice.

  10. I’ve just posted a detailed review of all seven serious star-charting apps for iPhone and iPod Touch. In my opinion they’re all good but have different strengths and weaknesses. And they can all still be improved quite a bit. We’re very fortunate to have such a diversity of apps to choose from!

  11. Your review needs to be updated! The designer changed his graphic engine and it now runs fast and doesn’t crash. He’s also released Starmap Pro, an incredibly powerful app for the serious amateur astronomer. The others each have serious flaws. Check out the reviews on iTunes and the excellent, though outdated, review mentioned earlier.

  12. I got one that was called astrolabe. It is more of a advanced app but it is very well done and works great. Check it out!!

  13. I just downloaded it, wish Id seen this review before and not after. Dont buy this app, its still slow and buggy. Apple should QA this stuff before allowing it on the app store.

  14. Depends on what you want to do … but if you have a telescope that you want to control with an iPad or iPhone, then I think SkySafari from Southern Stars is the best. I use it all the time.

  15. A new app is changing the landscape of the star gazing apps : Cosmos Story Vol. 1. It is certainly nice to have the full catalogue of stars in your pocket, but what i liked in Cosmos Story is that it gives sense to the universe, at the opposite of the other apps. This app is actually a “celestial” guided tour, leaded by an astronomer. Easy to understand, a dream full journey even for detail-orientated astronomers

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