Science

SkyView stargazing app review: Find stars and planets with your smartphone

SkyView, a lightweight stargazing app, has been available for over a decade and has gone through many updates leading up to the current version: 3.6.1. Currently available for iOS and Android, there are free and paid versions of the app that offer slightly different features.

Here at Space.com we have been using SkyView since 2015. Overall, we think it’s great for locating certain stars, planets, and nebulae compared to standard planispheres. Like Star Walk 2 (will open in a new tab)it’s one of the cheapest options available – and while it may not top our list of the best stargazing apps, it’s still a great little tool for amateur astronomers.

SkyView Stargazing App Review: Features

SkyView overview: The image shows the Hubble telescope inside the app.

(Image credit: Future)

  • The application is easy to start
  • Ambient music can upset casual observers
  • Extremely accurate when smartphone compass is aligned

The app is very easy to use and set up. There are a few minor tweaks that can be tweaked to your liking, such as setting the screen to “night view” and turning off the background music, which is a bit like a lullaby. There is also an option to increase or decrease the visibility of the magnitude (the magnitude represents the brightness of the star), which is very useful if you are in an area with high light pollution.

Two things that are a little annoying are the need for perfect pixel when searching for stars and constellations, since the image on the screen and information disappear with very little movement from the intended target, and also that the augmented reality screen and camera are too dark. at night for use.

SkyView Overview: The image shows Hubble information.

(Image credit: Future)

Once your device’s on-board compass has determined where you are and which way you’re facing, the app works very accurately. However, if your device is unable to detect north, there is a manual slider option to manually adjust the screen layout. Just swipe left or right until the stars on the screen match what you see in the sky.

If you have a “real” compass, this can help determine north, or you can use the app to find the North Star (the North Star contained in Ursa Major and Ursa Minor if you’re in the northern hemisphere), or the southern cross (if you’re are south of the equator), then align the image on the screen to the specified location. So, theoretically, there are several ways to make sure the application is properly aligned.

SkyView Stargazing App Review: Design

SkyView overview: The image shows Jupiter.

(Image credit: Future)

  • Interactive star map automatically recognizes objects
  • Detailed descriptions of objects and constellations
  • Artificial and celestial objects have corresponding links on Wikipedia.

As with many stargazing apps, SkyView’s most useful feature is its interactive sky map. This automatically recognizes objects and constellations, allowing the user to understand what area of ​​the sky they are looking at without having to resort to cumbersome star signs. When an object, planet or star is in the center of the screen, its trajectory across the night sky is clearly visible.

SkyView Overview: The image shows textual information about Saturn.

(Image credit: Future)

Another interesting feature is the ability to click on an object and get a detailed description of it. Pressing the “i” symbol again gives an even deeper description of the object, offering nuggets of information such as alternative names for the object (this works for both artificial and celestial objects), launch dates, funding agencies, and usage. satellites and the distance of the object from the ground (again, this works very well for both artificial and celestial objects). There is also a text description and a link to the corresponding Wikipedia page.

SkyView Stargazing App Review: Additional Features

SkyView overview: The image shows Saturn.

(Image credit: Future)

Other features that are very useful in this application is the ability to save interesting objects, which allows you to quickly find them the next time you want to observe them. If you have a telescope, then it is potentially invaluable for observing the planets or their respective moons.

SkyView does offer something called “Space Navigator”, a little app extension that allows you to point your “space navigator” telescope or binoculars at a specific star, planet, or object in the night sky. But these telescopes and binoculars are generally not in the high-end equipment category – you won’t find them on our best telescopes or best binoculars lists.

SkyView Stargazing App Review: Cost

There is a free lite version of SkyView which contains no ads but contains fewer stars, constellations and other space objects than the paid version. However, you can purchase additional packages containing additional stars and satellites, as well as a music package. The full paid version of the app costs $1.99. (For context, a deep stargazing app like SkySafari Pro (will open in a new tab) costs about $39.99.)

Should you buy the SkyView stargazing app?

If you are an aspiring astronomer, then yes, we recommend that you buy this app.

More detailed professional and semi-professional apps and software are available, however they naturally cost a lot more (some even require monthly/yearly subscription packages, some even require monthly/yearly subscription packages, e.g. the iCandi app will cost $7/month or $45 per year or $240 as a one-time payment). But for about $3, this app offers a great place to start. The graphics are crisp and the illustrations used to illustrate the constellations are bright and easy to understand. Animated satellites and space junk (which are only available in the paid version) add a level of interest that is not apparent in competing apps.

However, this is not ideal. At night, the AR screen is quite dark, so you can only see the app’s graphics, which can make it a little awkward to line up to a particular heavenly body, and the constellation graphics quickly disappear as you move between the stars. But if you’re an amateur astronomer – or if you have kids who are interested in the night sky – this great and inexpensive little app will help deepen your interest and understanding.

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