Your travel watch is so small-minded. Try this mind-bending, Swiss-made astronomic time device and get a new perspective on Planet Earth
You might not appreciate it when you’re checking your watch in an airport or while waiting for a bus, but time is not a number, and time is not money. Time is a position in space. After reviewing many stargazing apps, the Cosmic Watch app comes as an absolute delight. Few people appreciate that the path the Sun appears to take through the sky is the same path that is followed by the Moon and all the planets. Yes, the Solar System is flat like a pancake. This is the ecliptic, and understanding it – and looking at how it moves wherever you travel to on the planet through the seasons, and how that’s linked to time – will change how you think about Earth and its position in the Solar System. So for an app to take the ecliptic and build a watch app around it is pretty cool. Or as the maker says, it’s the beauty of mother Earth within the infinite rhythm of the Cosmos.
Cosmic Watch markets itself as an interactive 3-D tool, usable as a real-time world clock, time travel machine, an astrolab, an antikythera mechanism, an orrey, an armillary sphere, or an astral-chart generator. Wow. It basically gives you a view of the planet with all of other planets and major stars plotted in a sphere around it so that you can identify these objects very easily (once you’ve aligned it with the cardinal points). It’s actually very simple to do, with various overlays that can be toggled on or off.
Happily, this app automatically identifies where you are, and the exact time and date. In doing so, it plots exactly what the day or night sky looks like from where you are on Earth. The Sun and Moon are plotted on the ecliptic in their exact position while all the planets (and the Sun) are plotted on a screen showing the dominant star sign of the moment, if that’s your bag. For identifying constellations it does take some getting used to, but it’s worth the time necause you can see where the stars are going to as Earth revolves.
However, Cosmic Watch save the best for last with a screen showing the plane of the Solar System and the path of the planets – in real-time – as they move around in their orbits of the Sun. This demonstrates the scale of the Solar System in fantastic perspective; while Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are bunched-up close to the Sun, Jupiter appears only on the edge of the screen, while the other planets are just too far away.
By using the same data from stargazing and planetary apps but presenting it in a much more imaginative way, the Cosmic Watch is a definite download for anyone interested in time, the planet and its place in the Solar System at large. As apps go, it’s ambitious, it’s educational, and it’s brilliant.
Price as reviewed: £2.99-£3.35
Download the Cosmic Watch app for iOS or Android