Take a Star Walk in Your Back Yard

Price: $4.99    Rating: 10/10    By Sarah ParkerStar Walk - 5 stars astronomy guide

Whether you are an astronomy buff or just an occasional stargazer, Star Walk, by Vito Technology, Inc., is a great tool for people of all ages. Providing access and information on 9,000 different celestial bodies and constellations, Star Walk was created as a part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) initiative. IYA 2009 was started by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to encourage people all over the world to explore their universe through the day and night sky. This year is the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of a telescope, and other important scientific and historical milestones. Star Walk is an IYA2009 official product, meaning it has met specific guidelines for scientific accuracy and global accessibility.

Star Walk is a pocket tour-guide to the day and night sky for everyday users. To begin, the user can select their location from a rotating Globe, or you can choose your location from a  list or use the GPS function. A Time Machine feature allows the user to find a specific date in the past or future to see how the sky will look at that time. You can either browse the beautiful star map, or locate specific stars, planets, Messiers, and constellations with the search feature. Each object is accompanied by basic information and a link to relevant Wikipedia articles.

Several different tools enhance your navigation of the star map; these include an optional night mode, outlines of visible constellations, and an adjustment for the brightness of the stars and planets on the star map. In an iPhone 3GS, the Star Spotter function can be used. When activated, the Star Spotter will adjust the star map as you tilt your iPhone to adjust the map to what you are currently seeing. If you don’t have an iPhone 3GS, you can adjust the star map manually by touching the screen. There is a zoom feature activated by double tapping the star map, but so far I have not figured out how to zoom back out.

The Star Walk application is amazing and beautifully illustrated. The instructions are only limited to the use of the Star Spotter and the Time Machine. But the interface is fairly easy to navigate and is designed with self explanatory symbols rather than words. The features in this app are abundant and well designed. Star Walk is well worth the money for people who love to explore the universe from home.

Star Walk requires the iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch


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3 Responses to “Take a Star Walk in Your Back Yard”

  1. JohnTree says:

    I’ve had Star Walk on my iPhone for several months, and have been a fan since I first downloaded it. The globe view is new to an update within the last few weeks, and adds a fantastic way to extend your use of the app.

    Normally, you use Star Walk to fix your curent location (by GPS or by other means), and then view the sky above your current location, moving forward or backwards in time to see how the sky changes. The globe view makes it much easier to ‘invert’ the view, and ask the fun questions: what does the sky look like tonight in Dublin or Dubai? Tokyo or Taipei? This can be accomplished by spinning the globe to a given point, pinch-zooming in, and resetting your reference point. From there forward, you will now be looking “up” from that point on the globe instead.

    One additional use for Star Walk (and other similar software) is for photographers: once you have entered your location, you can move forward in time to any date and time of day, and then look around 360 degrees to see where the sun & moon would be at that point, as well as night time points of interest, like nebulai (sp?) and planets. Basically, you could know that on a given day, a half-moon will rise at a certain spot in the sky, and move the time slider back and forth to figure out the exact right time to capture it perfectly.

    Even if you’re not a hard-core astronomy nerd, I think that Star Walk is one of the very best apps in demonstrating the capabilities of the iPhone hardware and interface. It is definitely prime “show what your iPhone can do” material.

  2. Erikiphone says:

    I love this app, it is one of my favorite, I have it already but for people who are still thinking about it, get it now it is on sale for $2.99, well worth it!

  3. sarahparker says:

    To John: well said!

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