We’re continuing the countdown of our favourite apps for the festive period and today we've picked stargazing app Star Walk: 5 Stars Astronomy Guide. If you’ve ever looked up at the night sky, wracking your brain for memories of school physics wishing you knew the names of the stars, constellations and planets, Star Walk is for you.
Launch the app and point your iPhone (or iPad) at the Sky and you’ll see a maps of the night sky with the names of everything celestial - over 200,000 things to be precise, including stars and planets - and you can choose exactly what is visible. See something of interest and tap it to view more information, coordinates and link through to Wikipedia. Star Walk is a live app, so move in any direction and it will update automatically, although it can take a couple of seconds to catch up.
Tap the magnifying glass and use the bottom icons to check out any Constellations, Solar System, Deep Space, Stars and Satellites in the sky on that day. For example tap Jupiter in the planet section to view the location, a cool 3D view and any photographs.
Star Walk includes some fascinating extras. Use the sliding scale on the right to access Time Machine, a map of the sky past and present, while the slider on the left lets you view the sky in X-Ray or Gamma Ray views. There’s also a calendar of celestial events, so you can time your star gazing (below).
We found Star Walk most effective at night when you can actually see the stars and planets although it works with cloud cover and even includes a night-mode to help avoid eye strain during day time use.
If you’ve got any interest in the night sky Sky Walk is well worth a look, at £1.99 it's not cheap, but it's beautiful and the kind of app that perfectly demonstrates the iPhone's capability. Star Walk also works on several levels, use it as an enthusiast to discover the night sky and introduce children to astronomy, alternatively take it to the next level and TelRad helps you find the exact location using a telescope. The latest version of Star Walk (6.1) has been updated, bringing a smaller file size, but it’s still over 50MB, so make sure you download it over WiFi.