Star Walk for the iPad could quite possibly be one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. You can use the app to look at the solar system and learn any number of things about what you’re seeing. The coolest thing, though, is when you hold the iPad up to the night sky. Pan the iPad across the sky and see the stars enter the iPad and display their names and other information.
The features are aplenty, but the main ones include:
3D Earth View for manual selection of location
Star Spotter Function (Digital Compass for 3GS)
Deep sky objects (Messier)
Even if you know nothing about Astronomy, you’re going to enjoy this app. This is an amazing way of navigating the night sky. Learning has just become even more fun.
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I received a random email from one of you (‘regnierericd’) this morning. It was one of those ‘Name a Star’ things. I was a little leery, so I passed it off to the best Bad Astronomer I know. Phil wrote back:
Hey, nifty! I like this, they aren’t a scam like the International Star Registry. I’ll have to promote this, and maybe talk to them. There’s more they can do…
For example, I looked up your star on SIMBAD, a database of astronomical objects. I found out it’s a K0 star, meaning it’s a little cooler than the Sun (maybe 4000 Kelvins). I don’t know if it’s a normal star like the Sun or if it’s a giant; I couldn’t find that info. But if it’s a main sequence (normal) star like the Sun, it’s a little less massive (about 0.8 times the Sun’s mass) and smaller (radius = 0.85 Sun). Those numbers are rough.
The distance was a bit tougher; it’s never been measured for this star. But knowing what kind of star it is and how bright it is, I can estimate the distance as 100 parsecs, or about 325 light years (again, if it’s a normal star). There are about a million stars within a sphere centered on the Sun and 100 parsecs across, just so’s you know.
The designation they gave it isn’t quite right. It’s SAO 5615, where that stands for Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. It has lots of names, but that’s as good as any.
I also went to a server that generates star field images from real digitized sky surveys. The image is attached; your star is the faint one in the exact center. 🙂
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