There are thousands of stars visible to the naked eye in the night sky. Unfortunately, the sky isn’t that dark in cities where light pollution obscures the beauty of the universe.
But one doesn’t need to camp out in a village, purchase an expensive telescope or join an astronomy club to stargaze. You can do that right from the comfort of your bed.
Stellarium app allows you to track stars, planets, constellations, and galaxies in real-time.
Launched in October 2020 on the Google Play Store, the app currently has over one crore downloads, with a 4.7 rating on the Play Store.
What does the app offer?
Once downloaded from the Play Store or the Apple App Store, the app only asks for your location to show the night sky as it would be visible from your place if the night sky was clear. The sky map appears as soon as you allow location access, twinkling with stars and showing planets and constellations.
For me, seeing my phone turn into a night sky was breathtaking. The user interface is easy and is designed very intuitively. The sky changes itself according to the time of the day.
Credit: YourStory Design
For instance, at around 12 pm, the home page would show you the sun instead of the moon. The app will show you a few planets and certain constellations. However, users can also switch to night mode to see what constellations look like at that time.
However, the night is the perfect time to sky gaze on your phone. There are more planets and stars visible at night.
You can either scroll through the sky or move your phone around in your room or while looking at the sky and see the sky chart move. It does feel dizzy to keep rotating your smartphone. But scrolling is quite fun and you could get lost exploring all the constellations and other features for quite some time.
While the app works perfectly for stargazers or someone whose enthusiastic about astronomy, for a newbie, the one thing missing was details about what I was looking at. The app would’ve been perfect if it could throw up some facts about the constellations or just introductory pointers about certain other features.
Credit: YourStory Design
You can also set the app in real-time or change it to some other time of the day. If you switch to a different location, the app gives you the information in certain other languages compatible with the app, for instance, Arabic, to enable easy viewing of the night sky from their geographies.
The constellation mode can also be turned off to just look at the stars and the planets.
Stellarium is one of the best educational apps I have come across in a long time. It makes you extremely curious about the sky and celestial objects that inhabit space.
While I’m not a regular stargazer and don’t follow astronomy, the app has really got me involved to look into what lies beyond the mortal realm.
It would have been the cherry on top of the cake if the app could tell more information about the celestial objects, but the app in itself is a reminder for those of us living in crowded and bright metropolises to pause sometimes, look up into the night sky, and absorb the wonders of the universe.
There are other planetarium applications on offer such as Sky Map, SkySafari, and Star Walk.
Edited by Kanishk Singh