Want To Live On Mars Time? There’s An App For That

Screenview from Mars Clock, available from the Apple Store, that displays Mars time.

You’ve listened to all of JPL’s Curiosity telecons, you can recite the nail-biting sequence of events during MSL’s “Seven Minutes of Terror,” and you’ve devoured thousands of pixels of image data beamed back to Earth. But are you ready to live on Mars time? With a couple of well-timed apps from Google Play and Apple’s app store, you can.

MarsClock, available for Android devices at Google play is a free app written by Scott Maxwell, rover driver for Curiosity. The app, which has been downloaded between 1,000 and 5,000 times, lets you see times for all three of NASA’s Mars Rovers, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. The app allows the user to set single alarms or alarms that repeat every sol. A sol is a full Martian day which is about 24 hours, 39 minutes in Earth time.

Perhaps you shun Android devices for your Apple device whether it’s an iPhone, iPad or iPod. Never fear, you too can be everyone’s favorite Martian living on Mars time. Mars Clock, by SunlightAndTime, is a 99-cent app that displays Mars time and a host of other Mars time goodies. Features include local mean solar time for the rover, coordinated Mars time, sunrise and sunset times for the Curiosity landing site (I think this might be the coolest feature), current season, a countdown to landing feature (which is counting up since MSL landed on Mars on August 5th), current Earth time, a distance calculator between the Earth and Mars and radio communications delay estimate.

While it might be hard to add 40 minutes to your day to live as a Martian or as the JPL team that operates the Curiosity rover, these apps sure do make it more fun.

Make iPhone Astrophotography Easier With The AstroClip!

The AstroClip™ is a simple mount that attaches your iPhone onto any telescope. Credit: Matthew Geyster.


They say necessity is the mother of invention, and if you’ve ever tried to take a picture through a telescope with your iPhone you’ll understand the necessity behind this invention: the AstroClip, an ingenious bit of injection-molded awesomeness that mounts an iPhone 4 onto any standard 1.25″ telescope eyepiece, keeping it stable and centered with the camera lens. I think this is a great idea and would certainly get one… that is, if it actually becomes a reality.

The AstroClip is designed to be very minimal while still being fully functional.

Invented by Boston designer Matthew Geyster, the AstroClip (patent pending) is still in development stage right now, awaiting the funding to go into production. Injection molding is a “simple but very expensive” process and in order to get the AstroClip produced Geyster has put his project up on Kickstarter, a web site that lets people pitch their great ideas that need funding and gives them a timeline to gather pledges.

If the AstroClip project can accumulate $15,000 in pledges by September 3, it will go into production. At the time of this writing there are 38 days left until then and it’s only 10% toward its goal. I’m hoping that drawing some more attention to this cool idea will help it along!

By becoming a “backer” you can pledge in several denomination categories, ranging from $1 or more to $500 or more. Each category above $25 comes with a “reward” of some sort… these are all listed on the project page.

I think Matthew has a great concept here. The camera on the iPhone 4 is very good and could take some great shots of the Moon and other astronomical objects, were it to just have a secure mount on a telescope lens. I’ve tried to do it without a mount before and really, it’s not easy.

Moon image taken with an iPhone and AstroClip

“The AstroClip is designed to be very minimal, while still being fully functional. The clip is very simple and rigid to hold your iPhone 4 steady and securely for the perfect shot. I also added the three adjustment screws that look like they’re meant to be on a telescope. With the simplicity and functionality of the AstroClip you will be taking great photos of outer space in no time at all.”

– Matthew Geyster

Honestly, I have no connection personally with this project or with Matthew… I just think this is something that would be very popular with iPhone users and astronomy enthusiasts. (I don’t even have a telescope… the light pollution in my city is pretty bad.) I just liked the idea so much I wanted to help support it however I could, and Universe Today seemed the perfect place to call attention to it!

If it proceeds the AstroClip will be entirely produced in the USA. Check it out on Kickstarter by clicking the image above or visit theastroclip.com.

Best of luck to a great idea!

All images and video © Matthew Geyster. Universe Today is not endorsing or otherwise officially supporting this project, all opinions of awesomeness are my own and all product claims are made by the product designer.


Jason Major is a graphic designer, photo enthusiast and space blogger. Visit his websiteLights in the Dark and follow him on Twitter @JPMajor or on Facebook for the most up-to-date astronomy news and images!

Updated Exoplanet iPhone App

Screenshot of a new exoplanet app for iPhone and iPad.


Just in time for the announcement yesterday of the multi-planet solar system discovery, and an upcoming exoplanet announcement by the Kepler team comes a new version of a free exoplanet app for iPhone and iPad. We got a note from Hanno Rein, who developed “Exoplanet,” and who just finished his PhD in astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. “It lists all discovered extrasolar planets with a lot of background information, many visualizations and animations,” he said. Other highlights include an easy search and filter for the database, real telescope images of the host star, visualizations of the orbits and the habitable zone, interactive 3D size comparison to our own solar system and much more.

With all the exoplanet news lately, “Exoplanet” is updated daily and push notifications are sent out whenever a new planet is discovered (although they can be turned off if you don’t want to get notifications). Pretty much everything known about any exoplanet is included, such as physical parameters, along with various visualizations and background information, which make this exciting subject accessible for a wider audience.
New for version 3.9 are direct links to planets and planetary systems, links to other planets of the same multi-planetary system have been added, and you can now link from any e-mail or website directly to this application by using a URL form of the exoplanet, for example, ://Fomalhaut

Rein developed this app while a student, and wanted to keep it free (knowing how hard it is to be a poor student!) so there are ads on the app. But a non-ad version is available for only $.99 USD.

I don’t have an iPhone or iPad (yet!) but Fraser does, and he said the Exoplanet app is very cool!

For more information, or to download, find Exoplanet at the iTunes Store.

Misbehaving Mobile Edition

Hey everyone, I updated the design of Universe Today to support mobile devices, but it sounds like it was a little overaggressive and displayed the mobile version to regular browsers. I’ve stripped it back so it should be displaying to iPods, iPhones and Android browsers right now.

If you’re seeing the mobile edition and don’t want to see it, please let me know. And if you’ve got a mobile device and want to see that instead of the regular webpage, let me know as well.

Only email me if you’re seeing the opposite of what you want to see. (Or if you’re a Nigerian prince who wants some help getting money out of the country.)

[email protected]



Free NASA iPhone App

NASA announced last week they had developed the first iPhone application geared specifically for keeping track of all things NASA. I don’t have an iPhone, so I didn’t look into it, but the iPhone users I know seem to be very excited about it. So here’s all the info you should need to hook up with NASA via your iPhone:

The NASA App is available free of charge on the App Store from Apple directly to the iPhone and iPod Touch or within iTunes.

What does it do?

The NASA App collects, customizes and delivers an extensive selection of dynamically updated information, images and videos from various online NASA sources. Users can access NASA countdown clocks, the NASA Image of the Day, Astronomy Image of the Day, online videos, NASA’s many Twitter feeds and other information in a convenient mobile package. It delivers NASA content in a clear and intuitive way by making full use of the iPhone and iPod touch features, including the Multi-Touch user interface.

The NASA App also allows users to track the current positions of the International Space Station and other spacecraft currently orbiting Earth in three views: a map with borders and labels, visible satellite imagery, or satellite overlaid with country borders and labels.

For more info, here’s NASA’s iPhone app page.

And if you want to watch NASA TV on your iPhone, check out this link from Akamai