Cool Apps, Tools, and Tech for Sky-gazing

The goal for amateur astronomers is to get a clear view of the stars and other celestial bodies. To effectively accomplish that, it’s important to have the right tools of the trade on hand. Fortunately, technology is ever expanding, bringing with it new possibilities and opportunities. Stargazing enthusiasts not only have better and clearer views, but they also have the ability to do far more than simply observe. This technology includes smartphone apps and upgraded tech added to standard astronomy equipment that can help people to see and understand more than ever.

Apps for mobile phones are an ideal tool for astronomers. Because people generally have their smartphones on hand, these apps are a convenient way to access a wealth of information; however, they may also be used on a tablet or laptop. A range of apps are available, including ones that can be used to provide information on, track, or identify planets, stars, constellations, and satellites. Some even allow users to see the past and future appearance of the sky in a particular location. Others apps allow users to use augmented reality to view constellations and other features. Many of these apps are free or available for a small fee.

In addition to mobile apps, the Web provides an abundance of opportunities for amatuer astronomers. Some online programs even allow them to do more than just stargaze; people can make a real contribution to science right from the comfort of their home through community science initiatives online. Now, adults and kids can act as citizen scientists by signing up for programs that allow them to appease their curiosity and assist actual scientists with their research. These citizen scientist programs ask participants to do specific tasks that require many people to examine large amounts of data. For instance, Galaxy Zoo asks participants to look at digital images and help classify galaxies by their shapes. Astronomy enthusiasts can sign up for the Milky Way Project to learn about galaxy evolution by finding dust bubbles, look for signs of life with SETILive, or search for planets for Planet Hunters.

In addition to the online and mobile technology that star enthusiasts can take advantage of, there’s still a need for basic stargazing technology. The first thing that many people purchase is a pair of binoculars or a telescope. While telescopes would seem to be the obvious choice for astronomers, amateurs may consider starting with a pair of binoculars. Binoculars are smaller and lighter, more portable, and often feel less intimidating to people who are new to the activity. Binoculars allow the user to see the night sky and can still be used for other purposes, which makes them highly versatile as well.

When choosing a telescope, it’s important to ask questions and select one that serves its purpose and is of high quality. Many different types of telescopes are available, and one may want to seek the help of a professional who can help them make the best decision based on their needs, how they plan to use it, and their budget. In addition, people should expect to invest in a telescope mount and lenses. A red light flashlight is also a good tool to have. People’s eyes adapt to the darkness after roughly 20 minutes, allowing them to see much better, but when a white light is turned on, it ruins this dark adaption. When this happens, anyone within range will need to adapt once again. A red light allows people to look at a star chart or other objects without turning on a bright light.

Popular Mobile Applications

Citizen Science Projects

Technology for the Amateur Astronomer