When I was in grade school, one of our field trips each year was to a planetarium. It was cool, but I sure don’t remember much about the stars in the sky other than the Big Dipper. In more recent years I’ve visit the observatory at Kitt Peak for their night program. It was really cool to look at the sky through one of their big telescopes. We even got a chance to follow the International Space Station as it crossed the sky.
While you can certainly get a telescope that allows you to zoom in on the night sky, it is often just fun to know what you are seeing. How many times have you looked up and wondered about a bright star? There is a really cool app for Android devices called Google Sky Map that points out the objects you are seeing. Just hold your phone or tablet up towards the object and a map showing the objects will be shown on the screen. Heck, that bright “star” might be Mars, Saturn or Venus.
I’ve included a short video from Google that shows a bit more about the app. For those reading via e-mail, you’ll have to go to the blog page to see it.
The app is completely free and you can get your copy in the Google Play store. To the best of my knowledge, the app is not available for iOS. I have seen apps named Star Walk and Astro Map mentioned for those of you with iOS devices, though I have no personal experience with either app.
Go find a remote location some night soon and explore the sky with Google Sky Map. I bet you’ll find it fun and educational. If there are others with you, they’ll think you are really smart for knowing the names of all the stars.