You’ve probably read that the US space agency NASA have a rich, free line-up of apps and online services just waiting to be explored. This isn’t to say that NASA is the final word when it comes to astronomy, space travel and cosmic education.
Here are 6 non-NASA iOS astronomy apps to give your thumbs and brain a cosmic workout.
Portal to the Universe (PTTU) simply brings to the PTTU homepage to your iPhone, iPad or similar in a neat mobile package. Established in 2009 to provide a one-stop space news and information portal, and the app mirrors this serving as a centralized location from which to monitor cosmic happenings.
The application provides access to news, recent articles from different astronomy blogs, podcasts from a variety of sources and a searchable database of past happenings. The app is kept fresh and regularly updated thanks to the number of sources syndicated, meaning you’ll find there’s something new nearly each time you launch it.
With NASA’s swelling array of iOS apps it’s no surprise that the ESA have produced a couple as well. This rather basic-yet-functional app will keep you up to date with all European space operations, news and future missions.
There’s also recent images and video sections as well as an About ESA tab that contains information about various aspects of the ESA, including technology, communications and observation programs.
Have you ever wanted to feel really, really small? Well Exoplanet is the app for you! With its zoom-able model of the Milky Way, visualizing earth’s size, distance from other solar systems and overall irrelevance in the grand scheme of things is easy.
The app’s main purpose is to provide a database of all known extrasolar planets – that is, planets outside of our own solar system. Along with a basic fact-sheet including mass and other mind-boggling information is a comparison of each planet next to those in our own solar system.
There is also news and custom correlation diagrams making this an impressive free package.
Unlike Exoplanet which delivers information about newly discovered extrasolar planets, planetFacts focuses on our own solar system. Each planet is present with a decent amount of information which makes this one quite an educational affair (kids will probably like it too).
Also present are distance and size scales as well as a dictionary of astronomical terms (which you’ll probably need to decipher some of the information regarding the planets).
ESA – Where is the Satellite / OSHI
Two fairly straightforward apps from the ESA, the first being Where is the Satellite – an app designed to help you find man-made satellites and space stations based on your location. Using your device’s GPS, ESA WIS will attempt to best-locate all ESA earth observation satellites as well as other features visible with the naked eye (such as the ISS and Hubble).
OSHI is, in a similar vein, images taken by the agency’s Hershel Space Observatory – the most powerful infrared telescope man has taken into space. Both are free, and both are highly entertaining (though for optimum use ESA WIS requires a decent cloud-free night).
Collating more than 1000 stunning images of space, landings, launches and telescopically-acquired images, Cosmic Discoveries is a wonderfully presented app from the American Museum of Natural History.
The images are presented as a mosaic, with many smaller pictures forming a large image of Saturn. This is one good-looking app, and at around 50MB there’s plenty to sink your teeth into.
There you have it – what better way to waste time on your phone than by daydreaming about what really is up there, how incomprehensibly big it all is and learning a thing or two along the way. Happy stargazing!
Any other astronomy apps or services you adore? Do you like astronomy? Any resources you’d care to share? We’d love to hear all about it, so leave a message in the box below!
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