To go with this month’s “Look Up” article, I thought I’d review an astronomy app for iOS related to backyard astronomy.
With Planets beginning astronomers can have a handy reference for finding planets in the night sky. It features 2D and 3D views to help orient the user and pinpoint celestial bodies through the night. Since it uses GPS Planets can accurately render a representation of your night sky.
The 2D view is very useful if you want to get a simple view of the sky and you don’t want to know what else is around the planet (like stars or constellations). The 3D view gives you a more accurate representation of the night sky and shows you the constellations and stars that each planet is near. You can also zoom in on a planet in the 3D view.
In addition to the 2D and 3D maps there is also a visibility graph that shows you how long each planet is visible. Tap on each planet and get information about it like it’s size, rotational speed, and number of moons. Want to know more about the planet? There’s a link to it’s Wikipedia article too. 3D globes of each planet are available too. You can explore each planet by rotating and zooming in on it, even change your point of view.
Planets is a handy tool for astronomers of any level but is especially useful for beginners who are learning to find their way around the night sky and best of all, it’s free!
Languages: English, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later