Having lived the major part of my childhood in a small town, there is one memory vividly etched in my brain. Some days, very early in the morning a little before 5 am, my mother would wake me up to show the planet ‘Venus’. It was such a magnificent sight to see the planet decorating the sky with its beautiful shimmering glow. That could be where my interest for sky-gazing started. ‘Sky Guide’ is a jaw-dropping, beautifully crafted iOS app for anyone who is interested in astronomy or star-gazing.
‘Sky Guide’ is not just another star-gazing app which gives you information about stars, planets, constellations etc. — it is an entirely immersive experience in itself. Unlike other apps in the same category, ‘Sky Guide’ has been created by stitching together thousands of ‘actual’ amazing photographs of the night-sky by its creator. It is also served with beautiful soundscape, created by award-winning composer Mat Jarvis, who has also created music for the game ‘Osmos’. Names of celestial objects is overlaid with beautiful typography, as you swipe to pan across the entire sky and pinch-zoom to delve into more detailed imagery. All of these combine to make you almost lose track of time when you use Sky Guide and get lost in the endless mystery of space.
You can use two-finger swipe up & down to control the brightness and exposure level of the sky in the app to match the actual sky in your location. I definitely recommend increasing the brightness to the max and zooming out fully to witness the beautiful pictures of the milky way inside the app. Also, when you tap on any star, a mellow ‘bling’ sound is played. The pitch and volume of that sound indicates how hot and large that star is. Tapping once on a star also gives you more detailed information about it in the panel on the right.
At any moment, when you want to know about a star you are seeing in the sky, all you have to do is open the app and hold your device towards the star. The app aligns itself to the actual sky using the gyroscope & GPS effortlessly, and the scrolling is extremely fluid. There is the usual search feature, using which you can locate a star if you know its name already. Also in the search box, they have listed all the objects in alphabetical order in four categories — stars, constellations, planets and deep sky objects for easy browsing.
Sky Guide also lets you track the International space station, Hubble & over 250 visible satellites, with illustrations, detailed information on their histories and upcoming flyovers seen from your location through an in-app purchase of $1.99.
Overall, if you compare it with its main competitor ‘Star Walk’, which I had tried a few months ago, Sky Guide may not have features like timeline or AR overlay. But the overall experience that Sky Guide creates is, without a doubt, way better. Whether you are a parent who likes to nurture your kids’ interest in astronomy, someone just interested in getting started with star-gazing, or an experienced star-gazer, this app is a must buy. Sky Guide is a Universal app and is available at just $1.99 on the App Store.