Distant Suns (max) – IOS App Review

On June 3, 2013, in Features, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Review, by David M. Acklam

Distant Suns (max)
App Developer: First Light Design
Version 3.4.3
License: US $8.99 Compatible with iPhone (optimized for iPhone 5), iPod touch, and iPad. Requires IOS 5.0 or later.

Title 1


As an amateur astronomer and a volunteer telescope operator at the Flandrau Science Center observatory, I enjoy sharing the night sky with the public. My primary objective, when inviting the public to look through the telescope, is to encourage them to enjoy viewing the heavens and to ask questions. I recognize that not everyone wants to be an astronomer and I certainly understand the magnitude of what is required to pursue a career in this profession. Today, the “buzz word” in education outreach is STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Certainly STEM applies to the curriculum associated with earning the required credentials to be a professional astronomer.

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Cosmos Story Vol1 – App Review

On December 24, 2012, in Apple, Apps, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Review, Tablet, by David M. Acklam

Cosmos Story Vol 1
App Developer: Cosmos Story
Version 1.1
License: US$2.99 Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires IOS 5.0 or later.

Cosmos Story2

As an amateur astronomer and a volunteer with Project ASTRO, I regularly use the concept of scale to help teach astronomy and engage our students in visualizing and grasping the immensity of our universe. I typically use examples scaled in the dimension of physical length, area, and volume to assist in illustrating the distance and sizes of planets, our solar system and neighboring stars and galaxies. The Cosmos Story application approaches this concept of the size of our universe in slightly different way by using the dimension of time as related to the speed of light. That is, light travels 186,000 miles per second or 300,000 kilometers per second. Working in this dimension, the distance between the Earth and our Moon is a little more than a second and the distance from the Earth to our Sun is a little more than eight minutes.

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Star Walk for iPad
Company: Vito Technology, Inc.
Price: $4.99 USD (iPad version);
$2.99 USD (iPhone version) – requires iOS 3.2 or later

I took a look at the original version of Star Walk some time ago, and at the time I liked the app a lot. Since then, Vito Technology hasn’t stopped improving the the app, with the latest version of Star Walk being the best iteration yet. Some of the new features that take advantage of the capabilities of the iPad 2 and the New iPad continue to make Star Walk a “must-have” app for any amateur astronomer or science teacher. Kore malı s5

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SkySafari 3 Pro
iOS App Review

On June 13, 2012, in iMac, iOS, iPad, iPad 2, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac OS X, Review, Tablet, by David M. Acklam

SkySafari 3 Pro
App Developer: Southern Stars
Version 3.5.1
License: US$59.99 (SkySafari Plus US$14.99, SkySafari 3 US$2.99) Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires IOS 4.0 or later.


As an amateur astronomer and a volunteer public observatory telescope operator, I regularly use astronomy related programs and applications. I have reviewed several of the iOS applications here on MyMac.com.

Southern Stars makes SkySafari for Mac OS X, and SkySafari 3 for iOS. It is available in three different performance and cost options: the basic, the Plus, and the Pro version. About a year ago I purchased the SkySafari Plus for my iMac through the Apple App Store. The performance and capabilities of this program on my iMac are excellent.

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Mars Globe HD
App Review

On April 17, 2012, in Apps, iOS, iPad, iPad 2, iPhone, iPod Touch, Review, by David M. Acklam

Mars Globe HD
App Developer: Midnight Martian
Version 2.2.1
License:US$0.99 (Mars Globe Free) Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone4, iPhone4S, iPod (3rd and 4th generations) and iPad. Requires IOS 3.2 or later.

The Mars Globe HD app is an enjoyable astronomy tool that you can use to learn about the planet Mars and the many space missions that have landed on its surface. The application has been recently updated to run at full resolution on the new iPad.

I’m a volunteer telescope operator at the Flandrau Science Center in Tucson, Arizona. I, along with about a dozen other volunteer telescope operators, take turns several times a month showing the night sky to the public through the Center’s sixteen inch Cassegrain reflector telescope.

The planet Mars has recently passed through opposition to the Sun, which means it is closer to Earth at this time as we orbit the Sun. Rising in the eastern evening sky it appears as a bright, rusty colored star-like object. Observing Mars through the Center’s telescope we can only see some of the subtle coloration details on the surface of this small planet that is roughly half the size of Earth and over seventy-seven million miles away. These subtle variations in color are associated with surface features such as craters, mountains, valleys, and surface materials.

This year is a special year for Mars exploration because we have the Mars Science Laboratory, a rover named Curiosity, en route to the planet and scheduled to land in early August. We can use the Mars Globe HD app to show what those surface details are and even check out where Curiosity is targeted to land.

Solar Walk iOS App

On December 28, 2011, in Apple, Apps, iPad, iPad 2, iPhone, iPod Touch, Review, by David M. Acklam

Solar Walk – 3D Solar System model
App Developer: Vito Technology Inc.
Version 1.9.1
License: US$2.99 Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.

Solar Walk is an astronomy/educational application that has been available for some time and has been updated twice in the past month. Updates include a voice-over, localized language subtitles in the movie section, cosmetic changes to Uranus, Venus, and Mercury, some minor interface tweaks, addition of the Asteroid Belt, solar prominences, and a bug fix. As an amateur astronomer and an educational outreach volunteer, there are many features in this application that I find simply entertaining and some that are educationally useful. However, there are still things that should be updated, and there is room for some additions and improvements.

What I find the most entertaining with this application is the user interface and how you interact with the Solar System simulation. Solar Walk really takes advantage of the touching, pinching, twisting, swiping actions with iOS allowing you to interact and navigate through our Solar System in a very intuitive fashion. Cosmic background music can be switched on to further enhance your solar exploration experience. You can also select the 3-D mode and add another dimension to your viewing by using standard red/blue 3-D glasses. Let me give a brief example to illustrate the entertaining aspect of Solar Walk. 

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Exoplanet for iOS

On November 3, 2011, in Apps, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Review, by David M. Acklam

App Developer: Hanno Rein
Version Reviewed: 5.6
License: Free (US $0.99 without ads). Universal app compatible with all iOS 3.1.3 or later devices.

As a member of the front end of the “baby boomers” I can still remember learning that our sun was just an average star and we were one of nine planets orbiting it. I also learned that our Milky Way was one of several hundred billion galaxies that made up our known universe, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. That begged the question: if our star had planets then should the rest of the stars have planets too? It seemed like the obvious answer was yes, but until the end of the twentieth century, the question remained unanswered. Due to the advancement of technology, astronomers have confirmed the existence of nearly 700 planets orbiting around nearby stars in our own galaxy and have currently identified over 600 additional possible planets; and the number continues to grow.

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Star Walk for iPad

On March 28, 2011, in Apple, Apps, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Review, by Mike Breed

Star Walk for iPad
Company: Vito Technologies
Price: $4.99 USD (iPad), $2.99 USD (iPhone/iPod Touch)

Some of the best apps in the iTunes Store are apps that deal with astronomy. Astronomy is one of those branches of science in which we all tend to take an interest. Just think of how many television series, novels, and movies have been devoted to adventures in outer space. It is natural for us to see apps devoted to this most pervasive and yet enigmatic of scientific disciplines.

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