‘Sky Live’ rise and sets times for planets and the Moon make this app so handy for trips to the bush
For a quick tour of the night sky, there are myriad cheap smartphone and tablet apps that will show you a dynamically changing ‘live’ star chart; just hold it up in front of you and your smartphone’s gyroscope and GPS sensors will give you an as-live chart of stars, constellations, planets, the Moon, satellites and even the International Space Station.
Sadly the free and most commonly used Google SkyMap is pretty poor, with only major stars and objects, and nothing to really engage the user. One of the best is Star Walk, which lets you click on any celestial object you can see to learn more about it. Even better, it’s got a calendar of astronomical happenings built-in as well as a Sky Live page that gives you the daily rise and set times for the Sun, the Moon and the four naked-eye planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Pinch to zoom
Viewing the night sky is a cinch; though it tracks as you move your phone, it’s also possible to interrupt it by pinching to zoom-in, or dragging to easily study a specific area of sky. There’s also a clock that lets you scan forwards and backwards in time so you can see how the sky changes throughout the night, day, week, month and year.