Starmap HD iPad app shines bright

Jun 23, 2010
Education

For a limited time only, you can download the new Starmap HD app for the iPad for only 99 cents. I would definitely suggest investing this small fee for this great nighttime app before it goes up to its regular price of at least $11.99, which is what it will cost you on the iPhone. […]

For a limited time only, you can download the new Starmap HD app for the iPad for only 99 cents. I would definitely suggest investing this small fee for this great nighttime app before it goes up to its regular price of at least $11.99, which is what it will cost you on the iPhone. For all you star gazers and space cadets, this app is for you.

For a star gazing app that’s pretty detailed and intricate, Starmap HD’ pretty easy to use. The main screen is an interactive view of the night sky. It’s programmed to mirror the exact sky you’re looking at, based on location, day, and time, so that you can use the app to map out exactly what you’re seeing when you look up. It also orients itself based on the direct, using its internal compass, so as you turn, it turns its view as well. On this map, you can pinch out to zoom in, click on stars, constellations, or planets, which will then show small window in the top of your screen of what you clicked on. By tapping on that window, it brings you the objects stat page.

The stat page has way too many details that I, as an average stargazer, would ever want to know. For example, if I zoom in on the Little Dipper (called the Lesser Bear in this app), I can click on the constellation, and it gives me an outline of the image that the stars are suppose to represent, in this case, a small cub. I can then click on the window in the top of the page, and get to the stat page. This page gives me all the details about the constellation, like its names (Ursa Minor and Lesser Bear), its altitude and visibility.

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The part I find most useful of this page, other than the listings of other constellations on the left hand panel, is the chart slider at the top. It shows when the constellation is visible, which parts of the sky it can be seen over time for the current day and its altitude throughout the year. If it isn’t currently visible, Starmap HD tells me when it will be, and where to look.

This stats page is available for planets, stars, galaxies, clusters, and nebulae, along with constellations. It also provides links to Wikipedia articles on the stars or constellations you’re currently viewing. There also seems to be a function to click on which will give you an actual image of the constellation, which worked intermittently. Sometimes it was very hard to click on a star or constellation I wanted, since zooming in would recalibrate to a different direction before I could click on what I wanted.

There are many other cool features that this app has, like looking for comets or meteors, a telescope function if you have an attachment, setting alarms, a night vision screen and a lamp. Overall, this app is pretty cool. This app is worth the 99 cent cost for casual stargazers, but might only appeal to astronomy enthusiasts once they raise the price.

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