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

The red filter on the Sunset app doesn't ruin your night vision.

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!

Distant Suns Astronomy App Giveaway

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS photographed with a 200mm telephoto lens over Bridgetown, Western Australia on March 10. Credit: Jim Gifford

Have you ever been out on a beautiful, starry night and wondered what it was you were seeing? Maybe you are walking your date home on an amazing, clear night and want to impress the heck out of her by comparing her eyes to the stars in Orion’s Belt; or her movements are as graceful as the swans in Cygnus. The Distant Suns app will help you locate these features in the night sky to back your romantic gestures with pure science.

The people at Distant Suns have been working hard to improve the features in this already cool app. The latest and greatest addition is the ability to track Comet PANSTARRS more easily. One of my favorite features of this app is the overlaying of the local landscape with the current features in the night sky. This really allows you to have a reference point for your stargazing in the future should you find yourself without your cell phone.

For the rest of this week until Sunday only, the Distant Suns App is available for half price. If that is still too rich for your blood, try to win one of 6 free copies that Universe Today and Distant Suns is offering to give away this week. With the days getting longer and the nights getting warmer, this is a really cool way to learn about the features of the night sky without the benefit of a telescope.

This Giveaway is now closed. Thank you for your interest!

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 Monday, March 11, 2013. We’ll send you a confirmation email, so you’ll need to click that to be entered into the drawing.

About Distant Suns Astronomy App distantsunslogo
Features include:

  • Augmented Reality Viewing overlays the sky with the local landscape (iOS only)
  • What’s Up? Offers an overview of the evening’s sky
  • GPS and Compass aware
  • News ticker of up-to-date space and astronomy news
  • NASA’s Night Sky Network of local astronomical events
  • Over 300,000 planets, stars, galaxies, nebula and star clusters
  • Interactive tour of the solar system
  • Available for purchase at the App Store
  • Distant Suns Astronomy Apps are also available for Android, Kindle and Nook. For more information, please go to Distant Suns product page.



Want Astronomy Apps? There’s a Catalog for That

Screenshot of the Distant Suns version 3.


With the plethora of mobile apps now available for astronomy applications, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Thanks to astronomer Andy Fraknoi and the American Astronomical Society there’s now a catalog for that. “This catalog is a first attempt to make a list of those of particular interest to astronomy educators,” wrote Fraknoi.

The catalog, published by the Astronomy Education Review, includes a short description and reviews of some — but not all — the apps to help people distinguish which app will best cover their needs. However, “the number of apps is fast outpacing the ability of reviewers to keep up,” Fraknoi said, adding that suggestions and additions for this catalog are most welcome.

Click here to access the app catalog.

Popular Astronomy App Supports Astronomers Without Borders

The constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius (highligted) as mythical figures, near the center of the Milky Way. Credit: Southern

he constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius (highlited) as mythical figures, near the center of the Milky Way. Credit: Southern

You can support a great organization, Astronomers Without Borders, by purchasing a popular astronomy app for Apple and Mac devices. SkySafari 3 is a “revolutionary” app that can completely cover your observing/educational needs. During a special promotion that is available until December 8, 40% of proceeds from all SkySafari sales will be donated to Astronomers Without Borders to support their global programs. Some significant discounts are also being offered, so you can get a great price and help build AWB’s worldwide astronomy community at the same time.

You’ve probably heard of some of AWB’s project, such as The World at Night, Global Astronomy Month, and 100 Hours of Astronomy. AWB nobly works to foster understanding and goodwill across national and cultural boundaries by creating relationships through the universal appeal of astronomy. They provide and share resources, information and inspiration.

With all the great work they are doing, AWB needs some help to continue their outreach. “Interest and demand have really outstripped our start-up, volunteer, grass-roots organization,” AWB President Mike Simmons told Universe Today. “So we’re starting a fund-raising campaign that we hope will get us over the hump so we can keep up with all the opportunities there are.”

If you are considering getting an astronomy app for yourself or someone else for the holidays, consider SkySafari 3, the latest version of this popular app – and you can support AWB at the same time. But hurry – this offer ends on Dec. 8, 2011.

You can also support AWB even if you don’t need an app.

More info:
Continue reading “Popular Astronomy App Supports Astronomers Without Borders”

Win a New iPhone Astronomy App: AstroView

Screenshot of the AstroView app


There’s a brand new astronomy app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that provides information on what you should be able to see with different combinations of eyepieces on your telescope. AstroView displays key telescope-eyepiece performance characteristics, provides recommendations on equipment, and with the field of view display, for example, what you see on screen is what you should be able to see through your telescope. Developer George Douvos says this new app is all very intuitive, easy to read, and easy to understand.

Would you like to try a AstroView for free? Universe Today has 10 copies of this new app to give away. Just send an email to [email protected] with the word “AstroView App” in the subject line, and we’ll pick ten winners at random. The contest ends on Thursday, August 18, 2011.

Want more info?

AstroView on iTunes

Astro View supports the following gear:
* Telescopes with objective diameter from 50 mm to 610 mm, selectable in 5 mm increments (or diameters from 2 inches to 24 inches, in 1/2 inch increments), and focal ratios from f/3 to f/15.
* Eyepieces with focal lengths from 2 mm to 55 mm and apparent field of view from 30 to 110 degrees.

Thanks to George Duvous for providing us with the apps to giveaway!