On occasion, we will feature some applications for smartphones and tablets that are available for purchase from Apple iTunes and Google Android stores.  Today we’ll feature Starwalk, available through iTunes for both iPhone and iPad (SkyMap is a similar application for Android devices).  Many learners are fascinated with the stars, planets, and other objects in our universe.  Using the screen on your mobile device, Starwalk is an amazing application that treats the Earth like a glass sphere and provides an unobstructed virtual window into the galaxy, even in the middle of a sunny day.

Starwalk uses the location of phone (either manually selected by you or automatically determined for cellular devices) and the built-in gyroscopic software to know where the device is located and how it is oriented to the sky.  The device’s screen will then display a picture of objects in the sky at that exact moment.  In other words, regardless of the time of day or the fact that you might be in the basement of your building without any view to the outside, hold your phone to the sky as if it were a telescope and Skywalk will display a virtual night sky.

Want to know where Jupiter is right now?  Use the search feature to enter the planet’s name and the screen will display arrows directing you to change the orientation of the phone until the screen is pointing in the direction of Jupiter’s current location.  In many cases searching for a specific star, planet, or other object reveals that the desired object is actually viewable from the other side of the Earth.  Or, you might also be amazed to know that planets and other objects are directly overhead but not visible because of the Sun’s light.  Both of these situations can provide a unique opportunity to help explain the universe we live in.

About Paula Kluth