How to choose a stargazing app for your dark sky trip

Unlock the constellations of the night sky with a smartphone app, but choose carefully – some travel better than others

stargazing appsHave you ever looked up at the night sky from a dark place and been blown away not only by the blanket of stars above you, but by your own ignorance of it all? There’s only so many times you can mutter ‘wow, there’s so many!’ before you start to feel inadequate, but don’t sweat because there’s a raft of apps, gadgets and podcasts that can transform your knowledge in minutes.

Find your bearings

Where’s the Milky Way? What about the Summer Triangle? Can I see any planets? With a little help from your smartphone, these and other questions become easy to answer as you find your bearings and transform your understanding of Earth’s ever-changing view of the solar system and beyond.

‘Live’ view

Hold your phone up to the sky and your smartphone’s compass and GPS will present a ‘live’ view of what’s in front of you, but do make sure you engage the red ‘night vision’ mode on the app to prevent the white glare from your smartphone from damaging your dark adapted eyes.

Binoculars

It’s also worth spending £40 on a pair of 10×50 binoculars for a proper close-up, though beginners should swerve a telescope for a few months; they’re less about stargazing and more about astronomy, so wait until you’re properly hooked before investing.