Starry-eyed humans have admired the cosmos for centuries. Astronomers of the past would have burned in envy of modern-day stargazers. The best astronomy apps of 2022 let you understand the stars better than your ancestors could.
Take Stellarium Web, for example. Instead of heading to the local planetarium, you can use this free app to learn about the stars and planets from home. Tap or click here to see which constellations and planets are out tonight.
In addition to this great resource, there are a ton of star finder apps that demystify the majestic night sky. You can check out a few apps we’ve rounded up to explore the cosmos. It’s the next best thing to riding a spaceship!
Here are the best stargazing apps for iPhones and Androids
If you have sky-high goals of becoming an astronomer, whip out your smartphone and check your app store. Some of the best astronomy apps use augmented reality to create dazzling virtual star maps. There’s just one problem: A ton of them are incredibly costly.
When researching the best stargazing apps of 2022, you might come across the highly-acclaimed SkySafari 7 Pro.
You can connect the app to a telescope, see what’s visible in your sky tonight and even record your observations. SkySafari 7 Pro even notifies you of celestial events, like eclipses, meteor showers and more. These fancy features come at an eye-watering price of $24.99.
If you’re an Android user, you can’t use the most recent version since developers haven’t created a non-iOS SkySafari 7 Pro. You’ll have to settle for the less current version, SkySafari 6 Pro, which costs $19.99.
Some call it the number one astronomy app for iPhone and Android. But other apps can turn you from a curious observer into an expert stargazer. Better yet, they don’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Night Sky is one of the best astronomy apps for iPhone
Night Sky is one of the most extensive stargazing apps in the galaxy. It has a map of 1.7 billion celestial bodies, from stars to planets.
To use it, point your iPhone or iPad to the sky to see an augmented reality overlay. This overlay reveals planets, moons, satellites, rocket bodies and more.
One of the most incredible features comes when you point your camera towards constellations. The app will plant fluid drawings over the constellations. This way, you can better visualize how the stars connect. Here’s an example:
That’s not all. You can also track the International Space Station. Just type its name into the search bar, tap Directions and follow the arrows to watch the speedy orbiter fly around Earth.
One of its best features takes you on a trip to the past. Night Sky’s Space Exploration Timeline takes you through each step of the space program’s history.
If you’d rather stay in the present, you can also use Night Sky to take a tour of another planet. Thanks to the AR Planetary Portals feature, you can imagine yourself walking on the surface of Mars, Mercury, Venus or any other planet in our solar system.
It gets better. Thanks to its AR Grand Orrery feature, you can create a scale model of the solar system in your living room. It’s like an enormous diorama you can walk through. The Night Sky app is available for free for iOS. It looks something like this:
Try it out for yourself:
Don’t have an iPhone? Star Walk 2 is one of the best astronomy apps for iOS and Android
Here’s an app that’s perfect for beginners and expert astronomers alike. Star Walk 2 is an augmented reality app that lets you point your device’s camera towards the night sky. Star Walk 2 inserts an overlay over your camera view, revealing the secrets behind stars, constellations and planets.
It even points out satellites flying above you. Unlike more expensive options, Star Walk 2 doesn’t connect to your telescope. On the bright side, it’s easy to set up, use and customize.
Although there are a few paid versions, it has an enormous catalog you can access for free. According to Vito Technology, this app includes:
- Eight planets
- 200,000 stars
- 27 asteroids and comets
- 10,000 satellites
Check out its menu for a 24-page manual that explains everything you can do with this app. It’s thorough, simple and easy to use.
You can turn on AR mode with the tap of an icon. You can also speed up time to see how a planet or constellation will move through the sky throughout the night. Or search for specific stars using your keyboard or voice activation.
On top of that, there are a ton of built-in learning resources. With all of these user-friendly features, it’s no wonder why people herald Sky Walk 2 as one of the best astronomy apps for iOS and Android. It’s available for $2.99 on iOS and Android.