The best stargazing apps bring the splendor of the night sky down to our planet. Both kids and adults can take advantage of these apps’ wonders, right in the palm of our hands. Whether they’re astronomy features or star maps, an excellent stargazing app helps transform your mobile devices into a portable planetarium. The majority of them are integrated with augmented-reality features that gather a wealth of information on the night sky and make it possible to gaze at the stars even while you’re indoors.
Stargazing and moon bathing are common activities you can do whenever there’s an upcoming astronomical phenomenon. With the best stargazing apps available, you can indulge in the beauty of the night sky without using expensive equipment such as telescopes! If you’re excited to learn more about stargazing apps, this guide is for you.
How Do Stargazing Apps Work?
Thanks to the wonders of technology, stargazing apps are made. Whether you’re waiting for the rare Blood Moon or meteor showers of the current year, you should start trying out the best stargazing apps available. All you need to do is connect to a stable internet connection, point your mobile device at the night sky, and you’re off to a completely unique and innovative stargazing activity. Stargazing apps access real-time data and display comprehensive information regarding satellites, planets, stars, moons, and other celestial activities.
If you’re wondering how stargazing apps are able to do this, they are integrated with augmented reality (AR) features. With AR, they utilize current environmental conditions and add pieces of information to create a new artificial setting and improve your senses.
It’s the reason why every time you point your mobile device to the night sky in your current location, the app can generate the star map above you. As a result, you won’t have to purchase an expensive telescope or visit a planetarium just to see a myriad of stars and other celestial bodies.
With stargazing apps, get ready to be fascinated by constellations, planets, galaxies, and stars. You can also witness man-made equipment such as the International Space Station and satellites. Many of these apps can notify you of upcoming astronomical events such as eclipses and unique lunar phenomena.
Best Stargazing Apps
1. SkyView Lite
To kickstart the list of the best stargazing apps, we have the SkyView Lite. This stargazing app provides you with a comprehensive overview of what to expect in a one-stop sky guide and stargazing app. Through SkyView Lite, you can use your mobile device’s sensors and screen to offer you an AR view of what’s happening in the current night sky.
Your smartphones and tablets are transformed into AR viewfinders for determining constellations, planets, and stars. Aside from that, SkyView Lite helps you track an object’s path on the night sky, as well as detailed information regarding satellites, planets, and other astronomical objects.
The app is integrated with a time travel function, letting you witness the sky as it would appear in the past and how it’ll look in the future, depending on the specific celestial body’s movements.
2. Star Walk 2
Another best stargazing app is Star Walk 2 that utilizes your mobile device’s GPS, allowing you to track the accurate location of astronomical objects. This stargazing app offers detailed information on the mythology and history of the different planets, stars, and constellations. It also includes a coordinates viewer for a more convenient stargazing activity.
Star Walk 2 is also built with a Time Machine feature that enables you to view the night skies in the past and future periods. With this feature, you can easily tap a specific celestial object and view comprehensive information about it. It can switch to night mode as well, so you can stargaze without compromising your vision.
Star Walk is also available in kid-friendly versions for aspiring astronomers via the Star Walk Kids in Android and iOS versions.
Undoubtedly, NASA is one of the best stargazing apps for its reputation. It is a one-stop shop for official resources regarding features, images, photos, and news articles from NASA. Hence, it’s everything you need in one stargazing app.
With the NASA app, you can stream NASA TV live, as well as learn more from an expanding archive of over 16,000 photos from NASA’s missions, probes, and other explorations. No doubt, it’s one of the best stargazing apps when you’re stuck indoors but still want to witness the cosmos at night.
SkySafari is the best stargazing app for beginners and professionals alike. Its flagship app offers a “freemium” subscription; thus, it’s a perfect app to get started in the world of astronomy and stargazing. The newer version of SkySafari has a wealth of information stored in its offline database including nebulae, planets, galaxies, stars, and constellations. With this stargazing app from Simulation Curriculum Corp., you can have an overview of an AR star map, integrated with complete information and animated visualizations about the science, mythology, and history behind astronomical bodies.
SkySafari offers a more advanced stargazing feature through its SkySafari Pro and SkySafari Plus versions. Through these apps, you can use Wi-Fi-controlled telescopes.
5. Redshift Sky Pro
Redshift Sky Pro is one of the paid stargazing apps on this list. A payment of $8.99 can sound a bit too much; however, you’re definitely getting what you paid for. You’ll enjoy access to a library of more than 10,000 in-depth sky objects, 100,000 stars, and thousands of other astronomical objects for the price. One of Redshift Sky Pro’s unique features is that you can “land” on a different planet and look at the night sky from that specific planet.
6. Star Rover
Star Rover is another star-mapping app that transforms your mobile devices into an AR viewfinder to track the exact locations of constellations, galaxies, planets, and stars. For only $1.99, you’ll get the whole planet in the palm of your hands.
Star Rover allows for a customizable view of different celestial bodies. That said, you can toggle the azimuthal and equatorial grids, names of major stars and planets, and famous constellations. With this app, you can configure it to display the night sky depending on your date, time, and particular location. Like other stargazing apps, Star Rover has a time-traveling feature that allows you to view the night sky from a past or future perspective.
7. Star Chart
Developed by Escape Velocity Limited, Star Chart is one of the best stargazing apps without fuss. All you have to do is point your mobile device towards the sky, and you’ll have everything you need to know regarding what’s above you. Alternatively, you can point down to the ground and get a glimpse of the sky on the other side of the planet.
8. Solar Walk
Solar Walk is more than just a virtual planetarium. This best stargazing app is a portable Orrery, a mechanical device that predicts or describes the motions and positions of the moons and planets in the Solar System.
This $2.99 stargazing app is integrated with beautiful illustrations and animations, letting you zoom in on each satellite, spacecraft, moon, and planet. Once you’ve zoomed in, you can view detailed information, infographics, and stunning photos of each celestial object.
9. ISS Detector
ISS Detector isn’t directly related to stargazing. However, it’s also a similar experience if you’re a fan of tracking the International Space Station. Instead of tracking stars, you can keep track of telescopes and satellites. ISS Detector notifies you if the Chinese Space Station Tiangong or the International Space Station is spotted. If this is the case, you can witness a space station through the naked eye.
ISS Detector also provides you with information regarding the weather, so you can have the best location for your next stargazing activity.
10. Light Pollution Map
Light Pollution Map lets you know possible observation sites where the night sky isn’t affected by light pollution, a crucial factor in determining the quality of your stargazing activity. With this app, you can experience the best viewing locations for witnessing the northern lights through a live webcam feature.
With the Light Pollution Map app, the information isn’t limited to celestial bodies only. As a result, this stargazing app is integrated with a light pollution map as its name goes.
11. Starlight – Explore the Stars
Starlight provides you with the opportunity to have an interesting stargazing activity. Like other stargazing apps on this list, Starlight only requires your mobile device, and you’re definitely covered. You can gaze at the different constellations and stars in real time, without leaving the comfort of your homes.
Starlight also educates and entertains children with astronomical studies. It’s one of the best stargazing apps since it provides simpler and faster navigation within the mobile app. This stargazing app has a collection of beautifully hand-painted designs and works of art.
SkEye is a virtual planetarium app that is only available for Android smartphones and tablets. Not only is it considered the best stargazing app, but it also works as a “push-to” manual for telescopes. SkEye is developed with a catalog of celestial objects, a time machine, and a search module.
Stargazers can also connect their Android mobile devices with their telescope’s tube. With SkEye, they can use the app for aligning their telescopes to view specific objects according to their preferences.
A different kind of stargazing experience is possible through one of the best stargazing apps, the Heavens-Above. Heavens-Above provides you with detailed information regarding the potential tracks of satellites, space crafts, and the International Space Station. Each calculation is made with real-time data. The app offers a visual timeline of the exact location of satellites and sky maps. Aside from that, users also obtain a thorough overview of celestial objects.
14. Pocket Universe
Another one-stop-shop stargazing app is Pocket Universe. The app offers a virtual sky map and a plethora of AR features. Through Pocket Universe, you can view the sky map, including complete labels and the exact location of constellations, planets, and other astronomical objects. An AR-inspired orrery allows you to discover more about the Solar System without going to a planetarium.
Pocket Universe also has bonus resources and activities such as short quizzes and helpful links to different objects.
15. GoSkyWatch Planetarium
Available only on iOS devices, GoSkyWatch Planetarium is one of the best stargazing apps that work as a star finder and sky map. The app can display a starfield, depending on your current location and device positioning. You can also use the search arrow functionality as a reference or guide for a particular astronomical object.
With GoSkyWatch Planetarium, you can customize the brightness and night mode feature for late-night stargazing. You can also view different varieties of constellations and use time-lapse animations of cosmic movements, as well as sunrise and sunset schedules.
16. Sky Tonight
If you want a more interactive stargazing experience, this app is the one for you. Sky Tonight makes use of AR technology to make your stargazing experience even better. Point your device to the sky and let Sky Tonight replicate your view. See constellations and other heavenly bodies with this awesome app.
17. Sky Map
If you want a planetarium on the go, then Sky Map is an app that you need to get today. Sky Map integrates with your phone’s compass to determine your location and let you see the stars near you. However, this app is only available to Android users.
How Do You Find Stars in the Night Sky?
For some people, one of the fascinating aspects of science is astronomy. It is because it’s regularly creating news due to its direct impact on people and the environment, especially when there’s an astronomical phenomenon such as eclipses, super moons, and other celestial activities. You don’t only read what’s happening around you but also get to participate. And one way to participate in such magnificent events is through stargazing.
So, how do you find stars in the night sky? First, if you’re serious about making stargazing a new hobby, you should invest time and effort. Familiarize yourself with the sky in general. Specifically, you can research seasonal constellations. As an introduction, you can look up information about Cygnus, Scorpius, Orion, and Taurus. Bring a copy of a star map so you can identify one star from another.
Once you get an overview of the stars, you have to immerse yourself in the topic. You can read many articles about meteor shower schedules, moon phases, eclipses, and other astronomical events. It won’t only provide you with a beautiful view of the night sky but also offers you what to expect and see during this period.
Determine a Location
Another crucial aspect of finding stars in the night sky is location. If you’re content with the moon and double stars, any observation site such as your home is more than enough. However, if you want more than that, you should stay in a darker spot. For example, galaxies and nebulae aren’t visible in a light-polluted sky. That said, you may have to drive in remote locations such as deserts, mountains, or fields.
Check the Weather
Also, it would help if you considered the weather for that day. Rainy or stormy weather isn’t a recipe for a memorable stargazing activity. In a nutshell, take note of the sky conditions such as the steadiness of stars, the amount of light pollution, and cloud percentage.
There are many passionate learners who are willing to go above and beyond, just to gather information from the universe around them. Indeed, the galaxy is a plethora of beauty and mystery. If you don’t want to miss any astronomical phenomenon, you can download any of the best stargazing apps we’ve highlighted. With stargazing apps, you can also watch the constellations, satellites, planets, and stars without leaving the comforts of your home.
Try out any of the best stargazing apps and see which one works best for your preference and need. Let us know your experience in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to share this list with a fellow stargazer, so they too can enjoy a sky full of stars in the palm of their hands. Happy stargazing!