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iPhone/iPod Touch Astronomy Software

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#1 DaveWhite

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:43 PM

Since this is my first post, being somewhat new to astronomy, I thought I would post about something I actually know something about. :D

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch I ran across some applications released today with the new 2.0 firmware. These are available via the latest iTunes (7.7) at the Applications store. Note, you must have firmware 2.0 installed in order to use these applications.

iCSC Clear Sky Chart – Free

I think we all know what this is and the price is right.

Web site: http://www.microproj....ca/iphone.html


Starmap - $11.99

This is a planetarium application. After looking through their Web site I immediately purchased and installed this one. Super great for those of us who don’t yet know all the stars and their positions. Highly recommended.

Web site: http://www.star-map.fr/


iAstronomica - $19.99

Another planetarium application. I couldn’t find information on their web site about the iPhone version, perhaps it will be updated soon. It seems to be an iPhone/iPod Touch version of their Macastronomica software for the Mac platform.

Web Site: http://www.artistict...stronomica.html


I’m sure that there will be astronomy related applications coming in the future, but it is a promising beginning for using the iPhone or iPod touch with the telescope.

#2 GJJim

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:59 PM

Thanks for those links. There is huge potential for these small apps because both devices have built-in wifi, and the iPhone has Bluetooth for wireless interfaces. Bisque is reworking their entire software suite to be platform agnostic, and a full, OS X version of The Sky is in the pipeline. iPhone and iP-Touch are running OS X, so I'd say it's a good bet we'll eventually be able to use them for telescope control.

#3 Astraforce Paul

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 05:37 PM

Welcome, Dave! Great first post!

The Star Map program looks good. The web site has a good run through, slide show of its major features. The designer has taken good advantage of the iPhone basics... it just looks right. Now, alas, he only has a very limited set of DSOs... but he is working on bringing the NGC and IC to it.

I hope he'll also have a way for people to upload additional databases--and even a conversion from databases for other programs.

I'd also like to see Planetarium and Astromist for the Palm get ported over!



#4 Doug D.

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 10:35 AM

I just popped in to ask about these apps. Looks like it will be a while before we get feedback on the paid versions so I will probably hold off for now. I would certainly like to see a version of Stellarium for my touch (among others).

#5 mypontiac

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:54 AM

I just ran through the slide show. I like the addition of a red light capability with the iphone.

Cool stuff!

Sean

#6 Clutch

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 12:24 PM

So far my favorite planetarium iPhone app is GoSkyWatch http://www.gosoftwor...Works/Home.html

Starmap is good, but it does run a bit sluggish. I found panning around the planetarium in GoSkyWatch is pretty fast and smooth (you can pan both by touch, and by moving the iPhone itself). The display gives a read-out of which constellation you are "in", and any specific object you happen to be pointing at. The author also thoughtfully included a "night vision" mode, and a fast, easy way to filter out stars by magnitude so the display can more closely represent what you're seeing with your eyes.

That said, Starmap does have a larger library of objects...GoSkyWatch doesn't have any DSO currently.

#7 mypontiac

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 01:57 PM

Davewhite,

I am assuming that Starmap will follow the track of the sky as time progresses like Stellarium?

Can you fast forward and reverse too?

Thanks,

Sean

#8 macaddicted

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 08:20 PM

Have you gotten it to work? Every time I try to enter a location, either by choosing from the list or setting by long/lat it crashes. Apparently it's a known bug, which doesn't help me right now.

#9 macaddicted

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 08:41 PM

Uranus has detail in the DSOs, but lacks a basic planisphere function. Literally everything is visible. Fine if you know what you are looking for, not so good if you are still learning the sky and what to know, say, what will be visible at 2 am.

#10 Clutch

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 10:05 PM

The app did crash the first time I tried to have it search for my location. The second time I typed in my city, selected it, and everything was fine. I haven't had any issues since.

Hopefully Apple will be reasonably fast when it comes to pushing patches to the app store.

#11 Astraforce Paul

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 05:19 PM

Oddly, Starmap doesn't show up when one searches for "astronomy" on iTunes, but only when one searches for "planetarium". I think I'll drop the developer a line on that!

I wonder what's making it sluggish... that doesn't bode well for astro software on the iPhone unless it's an obvious programming bug or a lack of magnitude controls (perhaps it's trying to render *all* stars w/o mag limits). Come to think of it, though, when you say "sluggish" what do you mean? :) On my Sony Clie SJ33, Planetarium is simply wonderful, but it does take several beats when changing directions, say from North to South. I can well imagine that Starmap would be slower than GoSkyWatch as it is displaying a small number of bright stars to show the constellations!

How bright is the screen when in these programs? Will they ruin night adaptation?

I had to give up on a Palm T3 and a Sony Clie TJ37 for dark work--either astronomy or ebook reading-- because the screens are far too bright even at lowest setting (and rubylith makes the screen indecipherable).

Anyone using an iPod Touch with these new apps?

#12 mypontiac

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 10:26 PM

There is a function to select your location. I used this and compared it to Stellarium. Matched up fine. Need to set daylight savings time though.

The sluggishness was a compromise with the programming. The author decided to have better graphics with a longer refresh rate.

He is working on a fix for this though.

I have been playing with it and am actually getting used to the slow refresh rate.

The still reference is what you will appreciate.

Sean

#13 Richard at GSW

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 05:42 PM

Hi,

I'm the author of GoSkyWatch. Glad to hear some of you like it. Also acknowledge some people have seen crashes. Version 1.1 should help with this. It's been submitted to Apple for approval. Apple is somewhat swamped with the launch of the app store so it's taking a while to get updates through.

You are correct in that it is a trade-off between performance and features when creating iPhone apps. We chose to go for graphics performance. It's what the iPhone can do well. Writing text to the iPhone screen is a big performance drain which is why GoSkyWatch has minimal text displayed (we think text clutters up the display anyway).

Interested to get your feedback as to what you would like to see added or improved. We've now heard several requests for deep space objects so that is something we plan to get into version 1.2. Hope to get that done soon.

#14 Moey

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 11:29 PM

Has anyone tried iAstronomica? If so how is it? Your feedback will be greatly appreciated thanks!

#15 canonelan2

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 03:47 PM

Hi,

I'm the author of GoSkyWatch. Glad to hear some of you like it. Also acknowledge some people have seen crashes. Version 1.1 should help with this. It's been submitted to Apple for approval. Apple is somewhat swamped with the launch of the app store so it's taking a while to get updates through.

You are correct in that it is a trade-off between performance and features when creating iPhone apps. We chose to go for graphics performance. It's what the iPhone can do well. Writing text to the iPhone screen is a big performance drain which is why GoSkyWatch has minimal text displayed (we think text clutters up the display anyway).

Interested to get your feedback as to what you would like to see added or improved. We've now heard several requests for deep space objects so that is something we plan to get into version 1.2. Hope to get that done soon.


Richard,

Why not offer a free version of your app so people can try before they buy? Based on App Store reviews and several forums online it seems that lots of people consider themselves burned by paying for apps that suck (or they just don't like). A demo version, timed (if possible), feature locked (planets only?), or whatever method you'd use will at least give us something to try before we buy.

#16 canonelan2

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 03:49 PM

Has anyone tried iAstronomica? If so how is it? Your feedback will be greatly appreciated thanks!


I have not but the price was reduced from the opening day price of $19.99 to $8.99 today.

#17 jonathan89

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Posted 27 July 2008 - 08:35 PM

um.. will these work on the P168++ Iphone clones ? :)

#18 bicparker

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 04:01 AM

um.. will these work on the P168++ Iphone clones ? :)


No, the P168 et al clones are based on MT6XXX processors using either ThreadX or Nucleus Plus OS as their operating systems (there is also a clone P168 variant using Windows Mobile out in the wild, also) and are not compatible with those applications in the form they are sold/distributed through the iTunes store (there may be certain P168xxx binary compatible versions out there, but they won't be sold or distributed through the iTunes store since all of those apps are registered to your phone through there).

#19 jonathan89

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Posted 28 July 2008 - 09:39 AM

oh oki , thanks! :)

#20 Richard at GSW

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 02:14 PM

We would love to offer a try before you buy scheme but we can only distribute through the Apple iTunes app store which only allows for purchases. The iPhone developer community has made this request known to Apple.

I agree fancy web sites and screen shots cannot convey what the real experience will be. The best we have done is to post a video on our web site to give people at least some idea as to what GoSkyWatch will be like. Not ideal I know but hopefully gives you a better idea of what to expect.

#21 bicparker

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 03:22 PM

Richard,
I did notice that some apps were offering "lite" versions for free and the feature laden ones for whatever retail price. Is that possible for your group?

#22 ranger

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 04:06 PM

I have been using Starmap on my iPhone and I really like it.

#23 Richard at GSW

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 05:19 PM

Bic,

Yes we are aware of lite versions and it is something worth considering. However for a lite version to still be a good useful app we would need to keep most of the capabilities we currently have so we don't have any plans at the moment to create a lite version. Right now our priority is improving GoSkyWatch for those who have already purchased it or considering purchasing it.

Richard,
I did notice that some apps were offering "lite" versions for free and the feature laden ones for whatever retail price. Is that possible for your group?



#24 kurat

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Posted 09 August 2008 - 04:52 PM

GoSkyWatch 1.1 on a 8 gig iPod Touch still has issues, random lock ups and in settings, trying to turn things on and off ends up crashing my iPod running v2.01

#25 bsim

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Posted 11 August 2008 - 04:28 PM

I'd love to see Pocket Stars on the iPhone. I contacted them and the official statement was nothing was decided.


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