Astronomy apps: These FREE apps will let you explore the night skies during lockdown

Dipping your toes in astronomy and space exploration might seem daunting at first but in the age of digital technology, stargazing has never been easier. If you are currently isolating at home and want to learn more about astronomy, here are the best apps on iOS and Android you can download for free today. And the good news is, you will not need a telescope or binoculars.

Skyview on iOS and Android

Skyview is a popular choice among astronomers and comes with a free version, Skyview Lite, and paid Skyview Pro version.

The app uses your phone’s camera and augmented reality (AR) to display in real-time the positions of celestial bodies.

Simply point your camera in any direction and the app will show you where planets, stars, satellites and more, are in relation to where you are standing.

Developed by TerminalEleven LLC, the app has been downloaded more than 27 million times on the iOS App Store.

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SkySafari on iOS and Android

SkySafari’s developers boast the app is a “powerful planetarium that fits in your pocket, puts the universe at your fingertips, and is incredibly easy to use”.

Much like Skyview, SkySafari uses augmented reality to display the position of various celestial bodies in real-time.

You can further explore objects by learning about their history and science through the app.

The developers said: “Simply hold your device to the sky and quickly locate planets, constellations, satellites, and millions of stars and deep sky objects.

“Use Augmented Reality (AR) mode to blend a simulated sky chart with a real view of your surroundings.”

NASA on iOS and Adroid

NASA has cemented its role as the world’s leading space exploration agency and its official mobile app is a vast repository of knowledge.

Come explore with NASA and discover the latest images, videos, mission information

NASA

You can browse the app to learn more about our universe and the work NASA does to study it.

The app also features a growing library of images – currently more than 17,000 – as well as access to NASA TV live streaming.

NASA said: “Come explore with NASA and discover the latest images, videos, mission information, news, feature stories, tweets, NASA TV and featured content with the NASA app.”

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Top paid astronomy apps:

Although you can start stargazing with the above selection of free apps, many paid options promise a host of bonus features.

One of the most popular choices is Stellarium, which also features a free browser version you can try out.

The app uses your current location to show you the night sky as you will see it.

You can then pinpoint specific stars, planets, satellites or constellations to figure out where you should be looking.

The app contains the Gaia DR2 catalogue of more than 1.4 billion stars.

Another popular choice on Apple devices is the GoSkyWatch Planetarium app.

The app uses your phone’s sensors to draw a live sky map and star finder.

There is a small catch – the app is only available to download on Apple iPads.

Developer GoSoftWorks said: “Easily and quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more by simply pointing to the sky.

“Your personal telescope to the wonders in the night sky. Go outside and explore the night sky.”

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