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  1. #1
    clark's Avatar
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    Thumbs up +1 for Starmap Pro on iPhone/iPad



    Adding another hearty recommendation for Starmap Pro on the iPhone/iPad!

    I'm new to astronomy (bought my dobs last month) and I was using some other stellarium software on the iphone that had a map that rotated to wherever you were pointing the phone. That was cool and helpful to identify what you found but it didn't help to really guide me to find cool things as a newbie. So after seeing the demo movie I tried Starmap Pro. A bit pricey for a phone app ($19), but not really since it is a full-blown app rivaling a desktop app, and I'm using it every night right out by my scope so actually it's better than a desktop app.

    What really impressed me was the feature set seems to have been designed by an actual astronomer. The workflow is awesome even if he(?) had some trouble cramming in all of the options. Like I said, I'm very new to this hobby, but I'm now really finding my way around the sky. Even though I haven't had a really dark sky yet to see a nebulae, I'm very confident I now know exactly where to look for lots of them. GC's I have found though.

    Check this out:

    You go out to your telescope and while its getting acclimated to the ambient temp, you start up Starmap in red "night mode", choose "Tonight" and it brings up a list of 50 or so interesting objects overhead tonight. The list is superimposed over a timeline so you know exactly when each object will rise, hit zenith, then set. The list is sorted by planets, then galaxies, clusters, nebulae. Sub-sorted by magnitude so its exceedingly simple to find something cool and of a manageable magnitude for your setup. Other apps give you a simple Messier list or a "search" tool, but what I need to know is *for tonight*, when, how bright, and where. A simple list doesn't do that, but this list in Starmap does. And its easy.

    Pick an object, hit "find", and it switches to the sky view with a big target over your object. Zoom in or out to orient it against constellations or other bright objects or use the gimmecky iPhone accelerometer. That's nice but it's not good enough to get me (newb) right on target for those tiny ones. No problem...

    Flip the iPhone over, then back (really nice interface design), and the view changes to "eyepiece mode" which uses the eyepiece, barlow, and telescope data you've previously entered during those annoyingly long daylight hours. In this mode you see the starfield through a correctly zoomed, FOV'd, and reversed circle with your target right in the center. Pinch or stretch to step through your eyepiece collection. This was extremely useful because it shows me exactly what the regional starfield should look like through *my* telescope. I can't miss now; I've used it and it really works to guide you and verify you are on the exact right point. Flip the iPhone over and back again to switch back the open sky view.

    Eyepiece views of planets include any visible moons, all labelled, so I can impress the neighbors by naming the moons they see right next to Saturn that night. Too cool.

    When highlighting an object in the sky view, a little data window pops up to tell you the basic stats, and if left open for a few seconds, the app will download a photo if it can find one. Now I know what that galaxy looks like (although it won't be as fancy as the photo I know).

    There's a ton more stuff in the app too like scope control if you can use that, all kinds of ways to search the database, time slider controls to research star fields future or past, and so on. But what really impressed me are the tools it has to help me work my way through the stars each night. It's a highly productive tool, not just a pretty app.

    Sorry to go on and on, but this app has really opened up the sky to this newcomer and I wanted to share!

    Clear Skies!
    Clark

    PS. Any drawbacks? I wish I could modify the sky field background color; its too blue for me. And I wish some of the hot key choices were different; like don't waste a hot key on scope control if I don't have that equipment.
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  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to clark For This Useful Post:

    admin (08-21-2010),dmbryan (07-07-2010),ebusinesstutor (08-26-2010),Joe Lalumia (08-21-2010)

  3. #2
    GriffinBF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clark View Post
    ...PS. Any drawbacks? I wish I could modify the sky field background color; its too blue for me...
    Hi clark,
    Check for the menu option "Brightness". From there you can set the app to reflect your particular sky conditions. Along with setting the amount of visible naked eye stars, you can set the twilight altitude (although I think of that setting more along the lines of setting my light pollution altitude). For example I have mine set to about 20 degrees, so below 20 degrees is somewhat washed out (blueish).. above that the sky fades to jet black. Of course the twilight can be removed completely which is especially useful if you disable the horizon restriction.
    Nice review btw...

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  4. #3
    clark's Avatar
    clark is offline White Dwarf
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    Thanks and thanks!
    Clark
    8"/1200mm Dob, 4"/400mm Dob
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  5. #4
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    My phone is stuck in "phone" mode. Anyway sounds like you got a pretty nice phone there. Can you make calls on it also? lol Hope you enjoy it and it shows you the wonders of the night sky.
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  6. #5
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    This is really a nice post, that you have updated us with all of nice information that can be very useful for future aspect. Thanks for sharing.

  7. #6
    AndreaF's Avatar
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    starmap pro is one of the best "astronomical" purchases I ever made

 

 

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