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Best astronomy apps for iphone and android?

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#26 WidowMaker

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 12:09 PM

Being a brand new Droid owner, the first thing I searched for was astronomy apps, only finding Google SkyMap.
Its a little disappointing, but I wouldnt be using it much for anything astronomy related-everything I actually use is on the observatory laptop anyways.

Verizon will start carrying the Iphone in Jan 2011, and just recently a federal judge ruled that 'cracking' the phones is not illegal so im hopeful well see more options become available.

I however was just fine using my ole LG phone but the wife wanted me to upgrade now since my time to upgrade had roled around and they were offering the Droid for $120.00.

I think its pretty cool so far. Ive only been around one Iphone and I thought that thing was awesome! That was a while ago and I cant remember what IT did that this Droid wont do, and if I would really miss it.

Oh well, before long, us Verizon users that have tried AT&T and had horrible reception issues (here in the boonies!)will have access to the Iphone too, and I bet by then the next hot item will be unavailable to me too! :lol:

#27 bicparker

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Posted 01 August 2010 - 04:09 PM

On the off chance that the iPhone doesn't go to Verizon (and that it will is still far from a sure thing right now, both for business and technical reasons), there are always the iTouch or iPad options.

#28 psonice

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 03:19 AM

On the off chance that the iPhone doesn't go to Verizon (and that it will is still far from a sure thing right now, both for business and technical reasons), there are always the iTouch or iPad options.


Yeah.. except that the ipod touch doesn't have GPS, compass etc. so no pointing the device at the sky. The ipad has no GPS/compass unless you buy the 3g version (in which case it comes unlocked and you can use whatever network you want).

A 2nd hand / unlocked iphone is another option, but you need a 3gs or 4 for the compass, or at least 3g for the GPS. And 2nd hand iphones aren't exactly cheap (which is good - it means if you buy one new, you can sell it when the contract finishes for good money!)

#29 btschumy

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 08:43 AM

Actually the non-3G version of the iPad does have a compass. I use it all the time. You are right about GPS though.

#30 psonice

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 09:17 AM

It has the actual compass (not just the accelerometer)? I'm sure the apple specs listed the compass + GPS as only coming with the 3g model (I was pretty disappointed about that at the time).

If it's got the compass built in, that's cool :) GPS (for astronomy at least) is merely a convenience, but the compass is essential for the whole 'point it at the sky' experience!

And btw, the iphone 4 has a gyroscope that should improve the whole sky viewing experience quite a bit (it's much more stable). From the way it's getting used, I think they're very likely to include it in the next ipod/ipad updates too.

#31 btschumy

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Posted 02 August 2010 - 01:36 PM

Yes, it has the actual compass. I agree the Apple site is not real clear on this point.

#32 FlyingAstronomer

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 12:15 AM

In the US, the Droid is available from Verizon, the Iphone is available from AT&T. So the choice is not so simple, generally Verizon scores higher in customer satisfaction surveys. There are quite a few who use phones with the Android operating system.

I am satisfied with my Droid, I would be a bit happier if there were a quality astronomy ap but I probably would not use it much anyway because I find that Planetarium for the Palm does a good job and I would rather not be risking my cell phone by using it in the dark.

Jon


Depends very much on where you live. I've had both. I had Verizon when I bought my house and they didn't have coverage here. I had a cable outage that took down my Vonage home "line" and had to drive a mile down the street to call it in. After a year of no coverage at home I went to AT&T (then Cingular,) way pre-iPhone and was delighted to find much better coverage and fewer dropped calls in other places I went as well. I stayed with my Treo for years and just got an iPhone 4. I find it's even more solid than the Treo. So far I've had it over two weeks and over four hours of talk time without a single dropped call. I rarely completed a call without a drop on Verizon. I couldn't be dragged back to Verizon but it's very much a YMMV situation.

Glad to find there are some astronomy aps, though I see your point. It might be worth buying a separate Palm device, considering the replacement cost of my 32 GB iPhone 4. :ooo:

#33 David Pavlich

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 08:16 AM

In the US, the Droid is available from Verizon, the Iphone is available from AT&T. So the choice is not so simple, generally Verizon scores higher in customer satisfaction surveys. There are quite a few who use phones with the Android operating system.

I am satisfied with my Droid, I would be a bit happier if there were a quality astronomy ap but I probably would not use it much anyway because I find that Planetarium for the Palm does a good job and I would rather not be risking my cell phone by using it in the dark.

Jon


Depends very much on where you live. I've had both. I had Verizon when I bought my house and they didn't have coverage here. I had a cable outage that took down my Vonage home "line" and had to drive a mile down the street to call it in. After a year of no coverage at home I went to AT&T (then Cingular,) way pre-iPhone and was delighted to find much better coverage and fewer dropped calls in other places I went as well. I stayed with my Treo for years and just got an iPhone 4. I find it's even more solid than the Treo. So far I've had it over two weeks and over four hours of talk time without a single dropped call. I rarely completed a call without a drop on Verizon. I couldn't be dragged back to Verizon but it's very much a YMMV situation.

Glad to find there are some astronomy aps, though I see your point. It might be worth buying a separate Palm device, considering the replacement cost of my 32 GB iPhone 4. :ooo:


YMMV...no truer words! A group of us went to an outreach that was quite distant from any city. When we arrived, I called my wife to let her know I had made it. The others, however, were walking around trying to get one bar. I was the lone Verizon subscriber. I guess it's all relative. :shrug:

David

#34 sailor70623

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 02:10 PM

It has to do with where their antennas are. Most of the time, my Verizon comes in fine. I travel all over the country. Now, my AT&T drops far more calls, roams much more, and just doesn't have any cell, when my verizon has 3 or 4 bars. BUT where I observe in Ok., AT&T comes in nice and clear, and getting a call through on Verizon becomes nearly impossible.
Since Android is newer, we just have to hope some-one will write some nice software for it, soon.
Anyways, Google sky is much better than any of the astronomy programs that are/were available for my BB.

#35 arpruss

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 07:35 PM

Since Android is newer, we just have to hope some-one will write some nice software for it, soon.


If anybody were willing to donate an Android device to me (e.g., a phone whose calling functionality is broken, or one of those super-cheap Android tablets), I could give a serious try at producing an open source astronomy app for it (and return the device if the project failed). I am an experienced PalmOS-based developer (e.g., I am on the core teams for AstroInfo, PalmBible+ and Plucker, and the sole developer for NVBackup, PIshido, and some fairly well known shareware apps) and wouldn't mind trying to develop free stuff for Android.

Alex Pruss

#36 btschumy

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 11:55 PM

Alex,

There is a nice android simulator that comes as part of the SDK. So you don't actually need physical hardware to develop for it. At least not initially. Of course, towards the end you would want real hardware to test on.

#37 arpruss

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 12:37 AM

There is a nice android simulator that comes as part of the SDK. So you don't actually need physical hardware to develop for it. At least not initially. Of course, towards the end you would want real hardware to test on.


Good idea. I'll look into it. Thanks.

#38 Bagged Star

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 05:03 AM

There is a nice android simulator that comes as part of the SDK. So you don't actually need physical hardware to develop for it. At least not initially. Of course, towards the end you would want real hardware to test on.


Good idea. I'll look into it. Thanks.


Can you try to port Stellarium? AFAIK, some kind of a Java wrapper is used for the compiled C++ applications.

#39 arpruss

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 08:31 AM

Stellarium is a bit too big I think. Also, the native code support in Android is very limited. Many things can only be done in java.

#40 b1gred

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 11:17 PM

The Google Sky Map for Android is OUTSTANDING!!! Unfortunately, I have a BlackBerry Storm and the same program isn't available for it. But WOW, the SkyMap application works GREAT on my wife's "Incredible"...

#41 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 04:21 PM

The Google Sky Map for Android is OUTSTANDING!!! Unfortunately, I have a BlackBerry Storm and the same program isn't available for it. But WOW, the SkyMap application works GREAT on my wife's "Incredible"...


Huh... Must be a different Google Sky Map than the one that runs on my Droid. The Skymap I have has some nice features but it's deep sky database is limited to the Messier objects, there are few if any double stars.

In comparison, Planetarium that runs on the Palm OS or SkyVoyager which runs on the IPhone, both have large DSO databases and include double stars and the like.

Jon

#42 sailor70623

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 06:45 PM

What a hard decission, wait untill Jan and see if Verison gets the iphone, Droid X, or a palm based phone???? :question:

#43 psonice

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 07:00 AM

I'd forget about palm.. they had to sell themselves after their phones pretty much failed in the market. Now HP owns them, but there's been no rumours of new palm phones that I've seen. They're planning tablets using webOS though. (This is a real pity, I liked palm!)

Android or iphone: if you're in the US, I hear the iphone is only available on one network so you're pretty much stuck. If it moves to other networks or the signal is OK with that one, I suggest comparing the astronomy apps on iphone + android, as the iphone has a lot of really good apps compared to just google sky (which is nice, but not really 'serious'. If android covers what you need, pick the best phone for your money :)

#44 Deb and Todd

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 05:07 PM

I have and use the following for different purposes on my I-pod touch:
Starmap Pro: Full featured but many different menus to wade through. Purchased this because I was tired of waiting for Astromist to come apple platforms:

Skygazer - I sue when I want less menus to go through. Like the object info it provides.

Pocket universe: still playing with. Like some of the features relating to current nights observing.

Distant Suns: Can't say why, but I like this program, especially if viewing with binoculars.

GoSkyWatch - I find myself using this one more and more all the time. Like the pop photos of many objects.

Astromist of I-pod: Most full featured of the above. I find that I'm still learning to manipulate the screens. The work slightly different than the others and slightly different than they did on the Palm.

I like the I-pod platform, but I still find myself dragging out the old Palm as often as I use the I-pod. I used both Planetarium and Astromist on the old Palm. One reason I drag the Palm out is that I have close to 6 years of observing notes in the Palm. It's nice to go back through those. I do know the author of Astromist has plans to set a up a server to move these from Palm to the I-pad or I-pod versions of the software. That will be nice. I also like the way observations were logged in the Palm. Much easier to use the stylus than the keypad on the touch.

#45 Tainted Skies

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:13 PM

I'm not sure what the policy is here for reviving dead threads, but I don't think the Android is as bad for Astronomy apps as people are saying.

For a serious astronomer, it may not be the best choice. I've seen both iPhone and Android in action, the iPhone definitely is better.

However, in general, the Android is a better phone, but more to the point, Google Sky Maps is great for any beginner to intermediate amateur astronomer.

Another app to check out is "Space Junk" I haven't quite figured it out, but many members of the Astronomical Society I belong to use it often, so it obviously has some use.

Also, I'm not sure if the iPhone has this app, but "Heavens-Above" has an android app that works excellent. I have witnessed about 20 satellites this past week, along with several iridium flares. The app is accurate enough to tell me which direction to look as it comes over the horizon, and the compass then tells me which direction to look as it passes over head. It really is amazing.


Like others have said, Android is the new guy on the market. Apps are being constantly developed and it will only be a matter of time before all those apps on iPhone get ported to Android. Beyond the apps issue, Android is a much more customization phone.

#46 RenoNV

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 11:24 AM

The other week someone asked what constellation that 'house' was, meaning the Teapot. Droid with SkyMap pointed right at it. I told her that the droid sensors weren't very accurate, and she needed to move the phone around about 10 degrees to see it on the droid screen (which was showing SCO). It was interesting that she didn't believe me that it was SGR until it popped up in the droid screen.

It wasn't the first time that Droid Google SkyMap was useless and confusing to a starparty guest. There are limitations to electronic motion sensors, and the simple wafer 'compass'. Trying to base new software off of those devices in their current low cost/accuracy state is not an effective use of time.

Get 'Ulysse Gizmos' to see what I'm talking about....plus it's a good tool for initial go-to setup. A netbook running a windows planetarium program will continue to run circles around any droid tablet for some time to come. The Droid's forte is 'spur-of-the-moment' in-car navigation, and being a cheaper cellphone.

#47 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:04 PM

Just happened upon this thread and thought I would comment. I have owned a iPhone and iPad for about a month now and have downloaded tons of apps, freeware and not.

Hands down, best app for iOS is Sky Safari Pro. It is worth buying an iPad just this app.

#48 psonice

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:41 PM

I'm not sure about sky safari. It's a great app, definitely. But there's also starmap pro, which is also great. I don't think I could choose between the two.

In general use, sky safari is a lot 'nicer' to use. Starmap has the (in)famous huge main menu, which is much more cumbersome. Sky safari definitely wins there. But earlier I was looking at visible comets in both apps, and I think this shows why starmap pro is also right up there:

- Sky Safari shows a single huge list, in apparently random order (think it might be ordered by the time they appear?). The only info shown is name and constellation, and ones not currently visible are greyed out. The first on the list is at magnitude 25, and there's one not far below at mag. 40. Just *slightly* beyond the reach of my equipment. Finding anything useful means searching for it by name.

- Starmap pro asks me what magnitude range I'd like first. I pick 'less than 16', and it shows me just 5 comets. All are visible now, and they're listed by magnitude (which is shown). There's a button to show currently invisible comets. It's trivial to find a comet to look at with this.

That's pretty much my experience in general: starmap kicks *BLEEP* for finding objects, planning a session and so on. It's also good at the eyepiece, the charts are good, there's a very handy arrow pointing towards the selected object when star hopping, and there's 'through the eyepiece' views if you enter the specs of your equipment. Sky safari lacks most of that, but is a lot more fun and friendly (and is still good enough for serious use I'd say). Sky safari has the sky wire too, which is potentially a massive bonus.

Maybe I could put it like this: if you can, get both. If not, pick starmap if you want to plan sessions and look up information easily, pick sky safari if you want an app that's still good to use but a bit easier (or you want the skywire/skyfi).

#49 Ain Soph Aur

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:17 PM

I also own Starmap Pro. I believe most of the items you are saying Sky Safari is lacking are actually there, but takes a bit of digging through the options.

Also, I am a huge fan of SkySafari's custom observing list capability. I've been working on creating custom lists for the various AL Observing Club lists I am working on, and this is ability is simply awesome. It would be nice if you could sort those lists by constellation, whats above the horizon, etc, but I think those features and many, many more are in the works. I'm not trying to denigrate Starmap Pro by any means, just throwing my 2 cents out there on which I like the best.

And yes, the SkyFi ability totally rules :) My iPad, iPhone and Sky Safari Pro are constant companions when observing with the 8SE.

#50 bilgebay

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 12:58 AM

I'm not sure about sky safari. It's a great app, definitely. But there's also starmap pro, which is also great. I don't think I could choose between the two.

In general use, sky safari is a lot 'nicer' to use. Starmap has the (in)famous huge main menu, which is much more cumbersome. Sky safari definitely wins there. But earlier I was looking at visible comets in both apps, and I think this shows why starmap pro is also right up there:

- Sky Safari shows a single huge list, in apparently random order (think it might be ordered by the time they appear?). The only info shown is name and constellation, and ones not currently visible are greyed out. The first on the list is at magnitude 25, and there's one not far below at mag. 40. Just *slightly* beyond the reach of my equipment. Finding anything useful means searching for it by name.

- Starmap pro asks me what magnitude range I'd like first. I pick 'less than 16', and it shows me just 5 comets. All are visible now, and they're listed by magnitude (which is shown). There's a button to show currently invisible comets. It's trivial to find a comet to look at with this.

That's pretty much my experience in general: starmap kicks *BLEEP* for finding objects, planning a session and so on. It's also good at the eyepiece, the charts are good, there's a very handy arrow pointing towards the selected object when star hopping, and there's 'through the eyepiece' views if you enter the specs of your equipment. Sky safari lacks most of that, but is a lot more fun and friendly (and is still good enough for serious use I'd say). Sky safari has the sky wire too, which is potentially a massive bonus.

Maybe I could put it like this: if you can, get both. If not, pick starmap if you want to plan sessions and look up information easily, pick sky safari if you want an app that's still good to use but a bit easier (or you want the skywire/skyfi).


I exactly share your experiences and feelings on SS and SMP.

Starmap Pro was my number one astro app before the introduction of Sky Safari (Sky Voyager).

My usage statistics are like 75% Sky Safari and 25% Skymap Pro these days. I am controlling my mount via SS and Skyfi. The planning is mostly done with Skymap Pro.

A new contender is Observer Pro. It is very handy indeed.

For beginners, I would recommend Starwalk.


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