New Android App Makes it Easier to Use Your Phone While Stargazing

Ever have to take a call while stargazing, or do you use astronomical apps on your phone, only to have the white screen ruin your night vision? A new app called Sunset is a screen filter that essentially adds a dimmed red-color filter onto an Android device’s screen so you can use your smartphone during those extra dark moments and not lose your dark-adapted night-vision.

The app’s description says it best:

Sunset is a screen filter adds an additional layer of dimming color to help soothe your eyes during those extra dark hours. Perfect for astronomers/stargazers looking to preserve their night vision, late night smartphone users, and movie theater texters. Sunset goes darker than Android’s brightness settings to provide your eyes with that extra layer of comfort.

Sunset is easy to use, too. Just select a color theme, choose the maximum intensity, and hit start. The color themes are specifically designed to help your eyes in different environments, as there are several other color options.

The Sunset app is just 99 cents, USD, but the app’s creator Rohan Puri will send a refund to the first 20 Universe Today readers who buy this app. Just send your e-mail via Direct Message on Twitter to @RohanSPuri after your purchase, and you will receive a full refund.

You can find Sunset at the Google Play Store

Thanks to Rohan for sharing this app with Universe Today and our readers!

Giveaway – Sky Guide App for your iOS device.

“What is that constellation up there – it is right on the tip of my tongue,” is not something you will be saying if you win one of 10 free copies of this app for your iOS device. We are so excited to be working with Fifth Star Labs to bring this promotion to Universe Today.

Simply aim your iPhone or iPad at the sky to identify stars, planets, galaxies and more. Sky Guide lets you experience the wonders of the night in ways you’ve only dreamed of. Now available as a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Tuesday, May 14, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

Price – In case you don’t want to wait to see if you win!!

$0.99 for a limited time through the iTunes Store

– Elegant and simple: Unobtrusive controls and gestures free up the screen for the best sky view yet.
– Realistic: Composed of over 37,000 real photographs, Sky Guide shows millions of stars, not just a few thousand simulated points.
– Rich content: Loads of stunning Retina-quality graphics and original artwork.
– Soudscape: Designed by Mat Jarvis, an electronic composer featured in the award-winning soundtrack for the game Osmos. Stars have sounds based on their temperature and size.
– Useful anywhere: Works even without a GPS or data signal. Built in access to hundreds of cross linked articles no matter where you are.
– HDR brightness gestures: Dynamically control how bright the sky is to match your surroundings.Sky Guide by Fifth Star Labs 2

About Nick Risinger
Nick Risinger is a photographer and designer living in Seattle, Washington. His work has received honors from the Advanced Imaging Conference, the Cartography and Geographic Information Society, and will be featured at the top of the Royal Hotel Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He has made appearances on Wired, BBC Horizon, and Public Radio International’s The World.

About Chris Laurel
Chris Laurel is a software developer from Seattle specializing in interactive 3D graphics. He is the creator of Celestia, a popular open source application for astronomical visualization. Chris has worked at Microsoft and NVIDIA, and has consulted for NASA and the the European Space Agency.

About Fifth Star Labs
Fifth Star Labs is a software development company that creates apps for science education and discovery. We blend design with technical expertise to fashion software that is beautiful, intuitive, and illuminating.

Giveaway: Pocket Universe App for Your iOS Device

The name says it all – Pocket Universe answers every question you have and never knew you had about the great beyond – astronomically speaking. Pocket Universe also has a feature that speaks to the trivial in me – the need to fill my brain with interesting factoids that I can regale my friends with at parties.

Universe Today and Craic Design are giving away 10 free copies of Pocket Universe to our readers.

If you don’t want to wait for the win; you can purchase this app through the iTunes Store.

This giveaway will run for a week starting today, so get your entries in! How?

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Tuesday, May 7, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

Here are some words from John Kennedy, developer of Pocket Universe:011_pocket_universe

Pocket Universe is one of those apps that re-affirms your belief in modern technology. Take it outside on a dark, cloudless night, hold it up at the sky, and you’ll get a real-time 3D rendered view of the heavens – complete with star and planet names, constellation images, as well as bright satellites, comets and more. If you ever wanted to know what it was you were looking at, this is the app for you. To help with new stargazers, there is also information on what you should be looking out for every month, and a list of interesting things visible on that very night. The app will also pop-up reminders when something interesting is happen – a meteor shower perhaps, or a flypast of the International Space Station – so you don’t miss out.



Giveaway: Luminos App For Your iOS Device

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand on the surface of Mars, or stare up at one of Saturn’s rings from the mountains of Titan? The Luminos App by Wobbleworks affords you the opportunity to give your friends a guided tour of the universe from the convenience of your iOS device. You can examine deep space objects, track satellites and fast forward or reverse time to understand the orbit of planets around the sun. If disaster movies don’t scare your pants off, you can view Near Earth Asteroids to see how many near misses the Earth has every year!

Wobbleworks provides an excellent user guide to this app complete with pictures and tutorials on how to create your own Observation Lists, log the date and time that a celestial body was viewed and keep track of satellites. It is really quite interesting to note the pass of the International Space Station.

Wobbleworks and Universe Today are giving away 10 free copies of Luminos!

This Giveaway is Now Closed

This giveaway will run for a week starting today, so get your entries in! How?

In order to be entered into the giveaway drawing, just put your email address into the box at the bottom of this post (where it says “Enter the Giveaway”) before Thursday, May 2, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

Words from Brian Albers – Luminos Developer:Luminos 1

Luminos, Astronomy for iOS, combines powerful features like telescope mount control, satellite tracking, and a five thousand year eclipse catalog with fun activities such as landing on remote bodies and tracking orbits in accelerated time. The Luminos data set includes two and a half million stars, tens of thousands of small bodies, up-to-date planet and moon surface features, and more. The design of the app emphasizes highly-tuned performance, with detailed models and an interface designed to maximize your view of the sky.
Luminos includes built-in help and online video tutorials, and keeps a frequent update schedule with new features introduced regularly. More information is at

Our Phases of the Moon App is Now a Lunar Atlas

We’ve done a major update to our Phases of the Moon app for iPhone/iPad and Android, finally fulfilling the most requested feature: a Lunar Atlas.

You can now pinch-zoom the Moon and two-finger pan it around. As you zoom the Moon beyond a certain size, labels for lunar features will appear, like major craters, Apollo landing sites and lunar seas (mare). As you zoom in more, smaller features become visible. Now that we’ve figured out how to actually implement this functionality, we’ll keep improving it, to make Phases of the Moon a really handy tool for stargazing, especially when you’re using a telescope.

There are lots of other features we’ve recently added including: total lunar eclipses, Live Wallpaper and Widgets (for Android), social sharing, and more.

You can download the iPhone/iPad version here.

Or you can access the Android version here.

Either app costs only $.99 and helps support the costs of Universe Today.

P.S. If you’ve already got either app, please take a second and give us a review on iTunes or Google Play. Every little bit helps.

A Virtual Galactic Smash-Up!

An online simulator for galactic collisions (Adrian Price-Whelan/Columbia University)

Have you ever had the desire to build your own galaxies, setting your own physical parameters and including as many stars as you want, and then smash them together like two toy cars on a track? Well, now you can do just that from the comfort of your own web browser (and no waiting billions of years for the results!)

This interactive online app by Adrian Price-Whelan lets you design a galaxy, including such parameters as star count, radius and dispersion rate, and then create a second galaxy to fling at it. Clicking and dragging on the black area will send the invading galaxy on its course, letting you watch the various results over and over again. (If those SMBH’s hit, look out!)

In reality many galaxies have gone through (or are going through, from our perspective) such collision events, our own Milky Way being no exception. In fact, the Milky Way is on course to collide with the Andromeda Galaxy… in about 4 billion years.

So while we wait patiently for that, this is just a bit of addictive fun to distract you from your Cyber Monday shopping spree. Enjoy!

(Source: Columbia University Astronomy & Physics)

Inset image: Hubble interacting galaxies UGC 9618, 450 million light-years away. Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and A. Evans (University of Virginia, Charlottesville/NRAO/Stony Brook University)

Phases of the Moon: Now on iPad

I’m pleased to announce that we’ve extended the functionality of our Phases of the Moon App so that it’s now working on Apple iPads (iPad 1-4 and the iPad Mini). To take advantage of the bigger screen real estate and higher resolution of the iPad, we’ve increased the resolution.

If you’ve already purchased our Phases of the Moon app on iPhone, you can just install the app on your other iDevices. If not, come on, it’s only $.99 and it’s super cool.

Click here to access Phases of the Moon in iTunes.

P.S. We just updated the Android version too. 🙂

New Updates for our Mobile App: Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon

Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that we’ve released several updates for both the Android and iPhone versions of the Universe Today mobile app: Phases of the Moon.

This is our handy mobile app that shows you a photorealistic view of the Moon’s current phase. You can seek forward and backwards in time, and drag the phases of the Moon around like you’re spinning a ball.

It’s both beautiful, and functional, and we’re really happy with it. And the people who have purchased the app on the Google Play store are really happy too. Check out the average 4.9 star ratings.

What’s New on Android
On Android, we’ve added several features, like Moon rise/set times, the distance to the Moon, updated second by second, and the ability to seek the next full Moon/new Moon. We’ve got a cool desktop widget and the ability to rotate into landscape mode.

What’s New on iPhones
For iPhones, we’ve completely rebuilt the app from scratch in native C code for iOS. This was an enormous amount of work, but it’s totally worth it.

Just like the Android version, you can drag the Moon’s terminator back and forth, pulling it through its phases. It’s useful – and cool. The iPhone version also has a monthly calendar view, and more.

Where you can buy it
The app is only $.99 on both the Google Play store or the iTunes store and is compatible with every device we’ve been able to get our hands on.

If you want to support Universe Today, buy a copy of our app, and tell your friends, it’ll really help us out.

Fraser Cain
Publisher, Universe Today

P.S. We’ve got an iPad version in development too, which should be available in a few weeks.

Phases of the Moon App for iPhone and Android

Phases of the Moon

Want to know the current phase of the Moon at all times? Perhaps you need to do some stargazing or astrophotography, or you really need to debunk some nonsense theories about full Moon madness… then check out our handy mobile app – available on iPhone or Android.

We’ve just done a major update to the app, extending the support to iPhone, and completely rebuilding the Android edition to be smoother and more stable on the wide range of devices.

This latest version of the app is running a full model of the Moon’s orbit and phases, displaying a scientifically accurate simulation of the Moon’s exact phase, size, distance and amount of illumination.

You can swipe the Moon back and forth to see how the Moon’s distance and illumination change over time, or jump to the next full Moon, or see the Moon’s phase at any point in the future. The Android version is especially smooth, and kind of hypnotic as you change the phase.

Here are the features:

  • Beautiful images of the Moon were made by NASA from data collected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
  • Full internal simulation of the Moon’s position and phase. See the current date, phase name, distance and illumination percentage.
  • Swipe left and right to move forward or backwards in time to see what the Moon will look like in the future or past.
  • Click a button to take you to the next full Moon.
  • You can also access a calendar that shows you the phase of the Moon for any date in the future.

You can purchase a copy for $.99 on either Google Play or the iTunes Store, and help support Universe Today.

Universe Today’s First Android App – Phases of the Moon

Phases of the Moon

I really believe portable devices like the Nexus and iPhone are amazing tools for astronomy. They can give you research information at your fingertips, figure out your position on Earth, direction you’re pointing.

Mobile apps are the future (actually the present). But my entire background and experience are in web development, not mobile, so this is a brand new learning curve. But we have to embrace change and build new knowledge, no matter how difficult it is.

Here’s the first app I’ve ever built. Well, not me, specifically, but I built this with my programming partner Alexander Allahverdiev.

Click here to check out Phases of the Moon App on Google Play.

It gives you the current phase of the Moon, allows you to seek the next full Moon, see a calendar of upcoming lunar phases. Swipe side to side to rotate the Moon to future days and see a realistic view of what the Moon is going to look like.

I think it’s the first app that actually accurately shows both the phase and the apparent distance to the Moon – we accurately show lunation.

Finally, you can just click play, and watch the Moon go through its phases, wobbling forward and back – it’s hypnotic.


Anyway, we need to build up an initial user base of app users so we can see if there are any bugs, and start gathering feedback for future versions. We’ve only done the Android version so far, but we’re going to release an iOS version shortly too, and then keep them concurrent.

Oh… it’s $.99

P.S. I know there are a lot of Moon Phase apps on Android and iOS, that’s not the point. The point is to learn. To go through the difficult learning curve of mobile development, to deeply understand what it takes to build and run mobile apps.