Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mobile App Tools to Help you Observe the Skies

Going back just a decade, it was much harder to find tools or obtain the information needed to do quality observing of the night skies.  It was harder to find objects in the sky.  It was harder to determine when viewing conditions were best.  It was harder to determine which locations were best for observing.  It was also harder to know when specific astronomical events were occurring.  Now it is much easier as all of this information is contained in a device that nearly all of us now own.  That device is your smartphone.

There are so many mobile apps that you can download for free or for low cost to assist you in observing that now anyone can do it with very little prior knowledge.  These mobile apps make it very easy for young kids to observe the night sky as well, so if you're uncomfortable using these apps or aren't sure how to use them, hand your phone over to your kid and let him/her teach you!

What are some of these apps?  There's the Clear Sky app which does an excellent job showing you the sky conditions at a given location.  It will provide details on cloud cover and future predicted cloud cover at your location.  I have this app on my phone and use it quite a bit.  There's also Sky Map which uses your phone's GPS to map out the sky for you.  Just point your phone at the sky and this app will show you a map of what you are currently viewing.  There's the Astronomy Tools Night Sky app that provides information on light pollution, sky conditions, and sends alerts of upcoming astronomical events.

There are many more as well and a few, including those above, are described in this article.

Turn Your Smartphone into an Astronomy Toolbox with Mobile Apps

Check out this article, download a few apps, and get started.  Turn that phone over to your kids or have them download these apps on their phone and get out there and observe!

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