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Monday, September 5, 2016

Cosmic-Watch

When I developed an interest in the stars and astronomy at a young age I recall being fascinated with maps and globes that represented the night sky and solar system objects like the moon. Of particular interest were those clear acrylic globes that had the stars on the outer clear globe (representing the celestial sphere) and a representation of the earth as a smaller globe in the center, with other solar system objects hanging from apertures inside the globe. 

Now there is a new app for iOS and Android that successfully creates this Earth-centered view called "Cosmic-Watch" by Celestial Dynamics Ltd. At its core this app is a watch which has a number of different views and perspectives of our universe with our Earth at the center. These items include:

The clock showing the current time at any location you choose along with the positions of the sun, moon, and planets

A "celestial sphere" view that shows the location of the stars and planets on a transparent globe encompassing the Earth






A long distance view of our solar system showing the relationship of the planets and various overlays which show how the position of the sun relates to the current month/season/etc.





Other features of note: 
  • For those "astrologically" inclined there is a view showing where the planets are in relation to the constellations in the Zodiac
  • A time adjustment feature which allows users to speed forward or backward in time, useful to see where the sun, moon or planets may be at some time other than the present

The functionality of the app is straight forward, I had no problem figuring out how to navigate the various options. Point and dragging changed the view as expected. On the Android phone, I tested on (a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact) the graphics were nice and sharp and beautiful to look at. A small complaint would be on such a small phone the graphics can appear to get a bit cluttered for certain views (like the celestial sphere where there was a bit too much going on)...this is a minor quibble and most likely won't be an issue on larger phones or tablets (anyways this app is screaming out for a larger screen so you can enjoy view!). I enjoyed exploring with Cosmic-Watch and I can see this being a very useful app in educational settings where explaining why we see what we do in the sky is immensely easier with visuals like what the Cosmic-Watch provides.

How to get Cosmic-Watch:

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