Sky Master: Planetarium App for iPhone Reaches for the Stars But Falls Just Short
Sky Master Rating:
I’ve always enjoyed star gazing and know all of the big constellations such as Orion and the Big Dipper but I’ve never had the time or energy to work out all of the other stars and constellations as I’ve never found an easy way to do it. Books and maps of the night sky are too cumbersome and I’ve never been able to use a telescope with any great deal of success, possible because when I have brought one I’ve always skimped on the price unwilling to pay the huge amounts of money that the really good ones cost.
However, now with Sky Master you can have a complete map of the night sky in your pocket at all times. What makes Sky Master even better is that thanks to the GPS capabilities of the iPhone it is able to show you the night sky based on your location and the date and time that you are there. Eager to try this out I headed outside and launched the application.
Unfortunately for me I have an iPod Touch rather than an iPhone and there for it was not able to get a fix on my location. Slightly disappointed I thought I would persevere and attempt to locate myself using Sky Master and find the night sky manually. Unfortunately this was not so easy as the only method of finding my location was to enter my Longitude and Latitude which was not something I one had at hand.
There is no doubt that Sky Master contains a lot of information. From manually scrolling around the application it was easy to navigate the night sky by simply dragging my finger across the screen both left and right and up and down. There is a horizon line to help you locate the stars and planets too and clicking directly on anyone will bring up the details of it, many of which you would probably need to be a qualified astronomer to even understand. This is what makes Sky Master ideal for all levels however, easy enough for the amateur but with enough detail for the serious astronomer. When viewing the details some of the planets especially will show you a full size image of the planet in question which looks great.
The controls are very intuitive and with practically no help screens in the app it’s still easy to navigate yourself around both the app and the night sky at the same time.
In addition to the planetarium it is also possible to view the position of the planets relative to each other. In both these sections you can also fast-forward or reverse time and see the position of the stars, planets and galaxies and any of those times, although i have to admit why I would want to do that I’m not sure! It is easy to do though so if that is something you want to do it won’t be difficult for you.
Back looking at the night sky you can also zoom in and out to view the stars in more detail and this is especially useful when looking at the constellations where I was certainly surprised to find the number of stars that actually make up some of them where I had previously thought it had only been a handful. If you know your celestial object names you can also search for them by name, again this was very easy but not knowing any star I was unable to use it to great effect and I found myself scrolling the night sky manually instead.
One nice feature is the ability to in affect dim the lights of the app so that the starts and planets are merely a red glow. This protects your eyes from having to adjust and re-adjust as you switch between looking at the app and the night sky itself.
The major problem I had with Sky Master though is that it frequently crashed causing me to have to reload the app. This happened after multiple restarts of my iPod Touch too and I certainly hope that this is addressed in a future update as if it was more stable it would definitely be worth having in the hand of any astronomer and at just $2.99 it’s not going to break the bank either.
- Intuitive controls
- Huge amount of data
- Night vision option
The Not So Good
- Limited location finding for iPod Touch users
- Kept crashing
Reviewed By: Craig Willis
Price: $2.99 (iTunes Store)
Released: Feb 26, 2010
Reviewed Version: 2.0
Size: 19.4 MB
Languages: English, Dutch
Seller: Michael Latour
© 2010 iCoder
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch. Requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later