We all sometimes need to get away from it all and relax. What a better way is to have some calming space is to connect, or reconnect, with the Cosmos on a crisp dark clear evening. So if the sky is clear tonight, tomorrow night or any other night, how do you learn or find your way around the night sky?
Most people nowadays have a mobile device – a tablet or smartphone. Celestron’s SkyPortal app, gives a beautiful realistic view of the night sky, is a FREE digital planetarium suite that can be run on iOS and Android devices that can show you stars, constellations and other celestial splendours for any time or terrestrial location.
Here are some of the features – at a glance – that the app offers:
- Easy to set up and use: display objects for your location, date and time
- Common object list search: find the planets in our Solar System, including asteroids and comets and much more easily
- Large stellar database: with over 120,000 stars
- Over 200 star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies
- Artificial satellites—including the ISS
- Object information: alongside an object’s proper name, you will also be able to find out more information about it such type of object, position in the sky, apparent size and separation (for e.g. double stars), physical parameters (e.g. temperature), visual magnitude, distance, and rise and set times.
- Over a hundred astronomical and NASA spacecraft images
- Configurable: multiple options for app appearance and behaviour (e.g. auto rotation, tilt-for-compass use), star and deep sky, horizon and sky constellation and Milky way appearance. You can even create your own panoramic horizon for your own customised observing location
- Compass Mode: For those devices with built in compass the feature enables you to hold your device up to the night sky and instantly identify stars, planets, galaxies, and more
- Easy location of an object: With Compass Mode enabled, search for an object, press “Center” and then simply move the smartphone in the direction of the displayed arrow to locate it’s position in the sky.
- Zoomable display: Zoom out to get a wide naked-eye view of the sky or zoom in to view objects up close or fainter objects not visible to the naked eye.
- Easy time control: Look at the sky now, or later tonight, tomorrow, in a week or months time. In fact you can simulate the sky up to 100 years in the past or future
- Audio tour: listen to over 4 hours of audio commentary: a great way of finding out more about a large number of popular celestial objects.
- Red-coloured night vision mode so that you do not ruin your dark adaption after viewing the mobile device’s screen.
In addition to being a digital planetarium, you can use SkyPortal to control one of Celestron’s WiFi compatible GOTO telescopes. The AstroFi and Evolution range have a built in WiFi module so your mobile device will connect to the telescope without any further additional hardware. If you have an SLT, NexStar SE, CPC, AVX or CGX/CGX-L you will need the SkyPortal WiFi Module. With the SkyPortal app, you can align your telescope in minutes without any prior knowledge of the night sky and then simply tap on any object on your screen and watch your telescope slew to the object and centres it in the eyepiece.