Monday, December 22, 2014

iPhone App: Augmented Reality Star Chart

Boaters have something unique going for them:  Typically when they are anchored or on passage at night, they are far away from the light pollution of cities.  That means that when they look up, the sky is filled with stars, and I truly mean filled.  Those poor city folks look up and see maybe a dozen of only the brightest stars, and never ever the Milky Way (an edge-on view of our own galaxy).

So, do you know the constellations?  Do you know where to look to spot Aldebaran so you can do your celestial navigation?  Or Betelgeuse?  Or Jupiter?


Well, I have the perfect answer for you.  There is a wonderful iPhone app called Sky View that you need to have.

Sky View shows you the night sky with identifications of everything up there.  But that would not make it unusual.  What is unusual is that it takes advantage of the sensors in your phone so that it shows you the sky where your phone is pointing.  Yup, as you swing your phone around, the display matches the motion.

By itself that would be amazing and useful...  but as Ron Poppeil used to say, "But wait!  There's more!"

If you want to find something in the sky (where is Mars tonite?), you can search for it...  an arrow appears on the screen, and you swing the phone around in the direction the arrow shows, until lo and behold, there it is!

But wait, there's more!

You can turn on the phone's camera and get an augmented reality view, with the stars superimposed over the surroundings.  So for example, you could say, "Yeah, that's Saturn, just off the starboard spreader."  And be right.

But wait, there's more!

It's free!  Yup, can you believe it?  FREE!

I can't believe you haven't downloaded it already.


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