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An eye in the sky (hindu)

Nothing has fascinated humankind as has the vast night sky. With its many stars and planets, it holds within its expanse mystery and intrigue. Little wonder then that movies such as Interstellar have us glued to our seats the entire duration. The fact that there is so much more out there that we may not even know of, is enough to pique our curiosity. It certainly did mine.

I once spent the better part of the night in freezing Ooty attempting star trail photography. Another time, I dragged a hapless friend to the planetarium after work. I spend hours browsing through my Instagram feed filled with time lapse videos and star trail pictures. When I’m tired of city life, I often find myself driving to the outskirts in the hopes of finding a dark sky sans all that light pollution. To lie flat on my back and look at a sky teeming with stars is a dream, I hope to realise one day. In the meantime, I’ll keep myself occupied with gleaning as much information as I can about the stars that I can see. If you’re a star gazer and looking for interesting apps, here are some worth checking out.

Google Sky Map

Always wondered which star you were looking at? Or whether it was a star at all and not a planet? Google Sky Map has the answers. The app syncs the phone’s GPS to pinpoint your location and give you a low-down on the portion of sky above you. Simply point your phone and the app will display the names of the brightest objects in the night sky. The app uses layers for stars, constellations, planets and grid lines. If you are looking for a specific star, constellation or planet, run a search in the app and an arrow will pop up, pointing you in the right direction.

Star Walk 2

Like with Google Sky Map, you can use Star Walk 2 to help you find the precise location of a celestial object. Just point your phone or tablet towards the sky for a real-time view of what’s on display. The app easily adjusts as you move your device to update the information on the screen. The app also throws up information about the objects you are looking for, apart from a calendar with celestial events for you to plan your next stargazing activity. Star Walk 2 goes a step ahead and throws in interesting space music and sound effects to amp up your stargazing experience. It also uses augmented reality to overlay a virtual view of space. Intrigued yet?

Pocket Universe

This one’s a great app for beginners. You can point your device up at the sky to identify stars, constellations and planets above you, as well as to browse through the app’s suggestions. Pocket Universe also offers a solar system view that shows the planets moving around the sun and 3D planets that one can spin. And if you want something more, the app has plenty of interstellar quizzes that keep you occupied and engaged.

SkyView

Wondering whether it’s a full moon night or whether the star you are looking at is actually a planet? SkyView is a great app for you, replete with fun facts. The app uses 3D graphics and augmented reality for a more fun experience. You can also select a celestial object on the screen and trace its path in the sky for a 24-hour period. You can also change the date and time to see where the object will be in the future or was in the past. And, if you like what you see, you can also share it across your social media platforms. Now we’re talking.

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