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Space: the final frontier. For centuries humans have gazed into the stars far beyond our Solar System and our galaxy, the Milky Way. In recent decades we have sent many missions into the unknown. Manned space travel outside our Solar System, however, is far out of reach and is very unlikely to happen within our lifetime. Meanwhile, virtual space explorers are collecting information and first impressions of the sights that are awaiting the generations that will come after us.
A lot of amazing things are happening near and far from Earth. Satellites are crossing our night sky, stars give us a glimpse into the past, Mars Explorer is scouting out our neighboring planet, and the Hubble space telescope sends us pictures from far away places, documenting the birth of galaxies and the death of stars. You can be part of all of this by viewing the material scientists are collecting. Get a glimpse of outer space with the help of the free Android space apps introduced below.
While on Earth, you can stare into outer space when you look up to a clear sky at night. The following apps can help you name and understand what you see.
Ever wanted to see the International Space Station? While visiting humanity’s only permanent settlement in space might be a dream never bound to happen, you can at least observe its passing in the night sky. ISS Detector predicts the ISS’s next passing based on your location. It also shares weather details, to help you decide whether it’s worth getting up in the middle of the night.
You can set the app to notify you of a possible sighting and add the event to your calendar. In addition to ISS passings, this app can also add visible Iridium Flares to the event list.
Sky Map is a Planetarium for your pocket. Based on your location and time, the app displays star maps and so helps you explore the night sky. When you point your phone to the sky and move it, the map moves along. You can bled in stars, constellations, Messier objects, planets, Meteor showers, the grid, and the horizon. Via the settings you can also travel in time and view the night sky in the past and future.
SkEye is very similar to Sky Map. I decided to include it because Star Odyssey, another featured app, links directly to it. The maps include planets of the Solar System, and you can view star constellations in the past and future.
While SkEye helps you identify star constellations and name the stars within them, Star Odyssey is the best app to learn more about individual stars. The app reveals stars’ distances from Earth and details about their name and history. Moreover, it adds into SkEye, so you can find specific stars within their respective constellations as you are watching the sky.
Also see our 5 Best Android Apps To Turn UFOs Into IFOs for some more tools to observe stars, satellites, and airline traffic.
To experience the fascination of outer space, dive into the following apps, which will bring the universe and its wonders onto your Android device.
NASA’s official app will keep you in the loop of everything that is going on in outer space. Where it’s sighting opportunities, launch schedules, any of its missions, or programs, you will find information about them here. Nicely organized, lots of details, huge collection of image and video material, and always up to date.
This NASA app takes you on a digital journey to Mars. See images, art, videos, and animations documenting the beauty and wonders of or neighbor planet. Learn about the red planet from ongoing missions exploring it from various views. In NASA’s Mars forum, you can ask Dr. C. about Mars.
The Hubble Space Center offers to be your window to the universe. It accumulates news about the space telescope and its discoveries, contains a gallery with over 1,000 pictures, and a separate gallery for the Astronomy Picture of the Day for the past 7 days. You can set images as wallpaper or share them with your friends via Facebook or email.
NASA Space Weather
With this app you have access to information about the space environment from the Sun to the Earth. The material constantly updates with the latest images and data, documenting solar activity. There is a host of information collected and users can select which of the many Cygnets (observational and modeled space weather products) to follow.
Space Images holds a gallery of the most beautiful images and videos from outside Earth. The material is sorted by category, rated by users, and updated almost daily. You can add favorites, share with your friends, and use the images as wallpapers.
If you are mainly interested in wallpapers I recommend NASA’s APOD Lite Live Wallpaper app, which includes the Astronomy Picture of the Day and other material. But you might also want to review the Top 7 Sites to View and Download Space Images, to get some space feeling onto your desktop computer.
Those of you totally psyched about outer space will probably be interested in some of these articles:
- Curiosity Has Landed – 5 Ways You Can Follow What The Mars Rover Is Up To
- Calling Space Buffs: Go On A Search For Another Earth With NASA PlanetQuest
- Learn About The Stars In The Sky With Open Source Program Stellarium
- Get To Know The Universe With These Amazing Astronomy Websites
- Experience Space Exploration In 3D At NASA Visualizations
If you could visit one outer space destination of your choice? Which one would you pick and why?
Image credits: Moon View via Shutterstock