5 should-have Astronomy apps for Amateur Astronomers

Are you an Amateur Astronomer? Are you a nature lover? Do you look up in the sky and wonder what are the stars called? Do you love Astronomy? Put your smart phones to some good use and get these smart phone applications that will make your Astronomy experience and learning better. Our ancestors used to have sky chartsAstronomy books and atlas to find their way into the sky and learn the features on Moon. We are lucky to have some state of the art Astronomy mobile applications now, some are free and some are for very minimal amount. Here is a list of Apps that every Amateur astronomer should have in their smart phones or tablets.

1. Star Walk (Planetarium/Sky Simulation)

Star Walk helps to point the stars in the sky as you move the phone in the sky; it pinpoints the celestial object you want to see. You just have to select your location or give exact coordinates (longitude and latitude). You can time travel to see what the sky has to offer in upcoming nights. It shows the artificial satellites such as ISS. You can search any messier object, constellation, planet or a satellite. It highlights the constellation with the art when in view. Stellarium is another application which is available for PCs as well tablets and phones.

Supported Platforms: iOSAndroidWindows phone

Price: $2.99

Alternate: StellariumSky ChartsSky maps, Sky Safari

Star Walk app (Augmented Stargazing)

Star Walk app (Augmented Stargazing). Image source: Google Play

2. Phases of the Moon

“Phases of the Moon” is a wonderful app to keep track of the lunar phases and find a phase in a past or future date. It has interactive display with lunar phase’s details, rise and set time of moon, and zodiac in which moon lies. When you zoom in the Moon, it displays the feature name on the Moon. You can also view Moon phases by month.

Supported Platforms: iOSAndroid

Price: $1.99, Free for Android

Alternate: Lunar Phases

Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon. Android application

3. Moon Atlas 3D

If you love Moon and want to learn the features of the Moon or want to spot the Moon features while viewing it with a telescope, this is the right app for you.

Supported Platforms: Android

Price: Free

Alternate: Moon Atlas (iOS)

Moon Atlas 3D

Moon Atlas 3D Android app


4. ISS Detector

This free App is one of my favorite’s applications. Those who are not much interested in viewing artificial satellites, this application will make you go and see up in the sky the amazing International Space Station (ISS) and Iridium Flares. ISS detector will display a list of all the visible ISS and Iridium passes over your preset location. You can keep timings for the alarms and notifications about the passes. The app displays visible ISS passes along with their start and end time, magnitude and path.

Supported Platforms: Android

Price: Free

Alternate: ISS Spotter

ISS Detector

ISS Detector android application



5. Meteor Shower Calendar

Meteor Shower occurs every month in different constellations, some have high rate of meteors per hour while some have less. You don’t want to miss any of the best showers and for that you need a meteor shower app that will tell you the peak dates of shower and will remind you of the showers.

Supported Platforms: Android

Price: Free

Meteor Shower Calendar Application. Image source: Google Play store

Meteor Shower Calendar Application. Image source: Google Play store

There are other apps but these are the applications I have personally used and witnessed them to be awesome. You should check rating and reviews before buying an application, however. All the applications can be found by clicking on the name of the application in this article. Enjoy the applications!

Edited (11-Nov-2014)

Sky Safari Pro is another great planetarium application has the largest database of any astronomy app. It includes over 27 million stars from the Hubble Guide Star catalog generation 1 and 2, plus 740,000 galaxies down to 18th magnitude, over 620,000 solar system objects – including every comet and asteroid ever discovered and a Moon map based on NASA’s latest LRO data with 8x resolution. It is available for iOS and Android only, so bad luck for windows phone users. This is a big app (around 900 MB) and an expensive one.

Abubaker Siddiq Shekhani

Abubaker Shekhani is an IT Entrepreneur and Full Stack Developer. He is the co-founder and the Developer behind Mytabeeb, a health care solution. He has worked for 5 years in Microsoft Dynamics AX space with Techno-functional role and glad to be one of few Microsoft Dynamics AX developers/consultants in Pakistan. He is TEDx speaker and likes to speak in public. He is an Amateur Astronomer and Astrophotographer. He is the founding member of Karachi Astronomers Society. He can be reached at me@abubakershekhani.com.

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