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Things you look for in an astronomy app

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#1 PolyWogg


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:11 AM

So part of my goal for 2019 is to get a bit more electronically organized for my viewing. To that end, I've been thinking of trying out a bunch of iOS apps (on XS Max iPhone) and I also have an Android tablet (Galaxy Tab S2 9.7"). In doing so, I was thinking I would review them on my personal website, maybe share them here if there is interest. Since I also do book reviews and movie reviews, I have found in the past that a good upfront "framework" helps immensely for providing a useful review and comparison between apps. Sooooooo, I'm interested in knowing what types of functions you think I should identify if the apps have or not?


Here's my working list so far:

Versions and cost
     - Does it offer multiple "levels"

     - Obviously free vs. full vs. subscription vs. future upgrades
     - Eligible for multiple installations (family on iOS, single account on Android, multiple computers, etc.)


Software Synching

     - Ability to synch between Android, iOS, desktop

     - Export and import abilities from standard formats
     - Requires internet connection or can all be downloaded

Sky Map

     - Basic map of sky showing stars, constellations, planets, etc.

     - Size of database of stars, etc.

     - Zoom capability
     - GPS link to provide real-time "what's above me"
     - Location saving, favorite sites

     - Point-and-identify capability (using camera)
     - Extra information about objects (audio, pics, video, links)

     - Satellite information

     - Iridium flares

     - Moon map


Weather plus astro info

     - Weather information built-in

     - Astronomy-related interpretation (like clear sky chart)

     - Dark sky information
     - Sunset / sunrise / moonrise / moonset / astronomical twilight, etc.

Telescope Integration

     - Level, compass
     - TelRad/Spotting scope circles
     - Horizon settings for angles

     - Direct control of a telescope (dongle, wifi, etc.)

     - Pre-set observing lists

     - Magnitude settings


Viewing assistance

     - Ability to log viewing notes

     - Session planning options

     - The Sky Tonight interfaces

     - Eyepiece calculations (exit pupil, magnifications, etc.)

     - Night mode

     - Landscape / portrait

My main interest is probably dividing things into two camps:

     a) Sky navigation with the naked eye
     b) Detailed observing with a telescope

I haven't yet decided if there should be an option for photography info to track or not. I have an iPhone adapter, and will likely use it sporadically, which means (I think) that when I'm out with my scope, I'll use my phone for basic + pix, and have my tablet for information/potentially logging. I'm leaning towards creating my own astrologger as a simple database entry app with multiple profiles for sites and setup. If I do, I was thinking just for "me" as a personal app, but if it ends up being flex enough and simple enough, I could release it into the wild for free.


Not looking to make money off anything here, just a quick way to compare apps to see what I'm looking for. I've book marked some lists from people and used it in part to build my "features list" above.

Let me know if anyone sees a big area missing...



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