Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coolest App Ever!

iPod Touch + Blog

I got a new iPod Touch the other day. It is fascinating. I wanted something that had rudimentary internet functions, would play music and allow me to listen to podcasts. Wow. This thing is much more than that. Aside from doing all the aforementioned stuff very well, one particular App really got me excited.

As you know, Astronomy is one of my hobbies. I like looking up at the stars, planets and everything else up there. It makes me feel small and provides me with a deep appreciation of our fragile existence on this planet. So, given that, it was only natural that I try to find some astronomy related Apps for my new iPod.

What I found was Starmap and Starmap Pro. Here is a snippet from their website:
STARMAP is a pocket planetarium, using the breath taking technologies of the iPhone. It brings the present and future sky map at the tip of your fingers, at any time, anywhere. Get connected to seasons and astronomical events. Learn the star names, the position of the planets and foresee the next meteors shower with STARMAP.

The PRO edition is the ultimate observation tool for astronomers and telescopes owners. More than 2 500 000 stars, NGC/IC catalogues, 25000 objects with detailed information.

Starmap PRO reflects exactly what you see in your eye piece. It will help you in planning your observation, selecting featured object and view tonight's sky on a single page. Manage your optics, use the time slider for finding conjunctions. Point easily with the Telrad. Choose the best optics for your camera, use the astrophotos timer with automatic logbook entries. Create notes and alarms related to objects events.
I bought the Pro version and it's a really really cool application. I will be using it to find interesting things to view with my Galileoscope, once that shows up. Select the "tonight" icon and it will show you what you can see in your sky and when it will be visible. Filter it by "naked eye" "binoculars" "telescope" or any number of sky objects including stars galaxies and nebulae, to name a few. Simply click on the object and it shows you detailed location info (for those who actually understand it). Click on the "find" button and it brings you to the star map with an arrow that follows around the map as you swipe it with your fingers. Very easy and very cool. You can toggle star names and constelation names. You can do the two finger zoom to get deep into the area you want to see. Click on any object on the map and you'll get a details description of it. I found it very easy to learn and navigate. I can't wait until the sky clears so I can get outside. Of course it has a night mode, which turns it nice and red so you don't lose your night vision.

There are many many more functions that are sure to satisfy even the most astute astronomer. It can control your telescope, so you don't have to bring out the laptop. It even has an "eye piece" view. I guess you enter the specs for your optics and it will show you how the object you are looking for should look in the eyepiece.

It will detect your location when you have WiFi available or you can enter your location manually. It doesn't require internet to function. All the data for millions of space objects is already loaded. It's a large App so you might want to dload from iTunes then sync with your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Go to their website and see the 15 minute video. If that doesn't convince you to get this app, you hate astronomy.

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