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3 iPad Apps Students Can Use to Explore Stars and Planets Through Augmented Reality

Screen Shot 2013-03-03 at 10.34.01 PMGoogle Sky is one of my favorite Android apps, but unfortunately it is not available for iPads so I set out find an alternative to Google Sky to use on my iPad. I found three that I think are worth noting. All three of these apps use your location (enable location based services in your iPad’s settings) to help you identify the stars and planets viewable from where you are standing with your iPad.

The developers of Go Sky Watch Planetarium calls it an “astronomy star guide.” The app displays the stars and planets that are viewable with the naked eye from wherever you are standing at the moment. The app even tries to show the relative brightness of objects to help you identify them when you look up at the night sky. You can also use the app to search for the location of a star, planet, or constellation and see it on a map of the night sky. A demo of the app can be seen in the video below (warning, the background music borders on annoying).

Like the other apps in this list SkyView for iPad uses your location to show you the stars, planets, and satellites that are viewable from your location. Point your iPad’s camera at the sky and SkyView will lay a map of the stars over what you’re actually seeing. Outlines of the constellations are included in the overlay to help you identify the objects that you should be seeing. If you want to know what you will be able to see on a future night, just change the date and SkyView will show you what you will be able to see on that date.

Star Tracker HD is the most expensive app on this list ($3.99 USD, the other apps have free versions to try) but for me it was the easiest of the apps to navigate. The options menus are clear and easy to find and adjusting my location (my location setting was a bit off, but it always is at home) was easy to do too. Like the other apps in this list you can point your iPad to the sky to see a map of the stars and planets placed over what you’re actually looking at with your naked eyes.

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