12 Best Astronomy Apps

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On a clear evening, the night sky can be beautiful, but have you ever wondered what stars you are looking at? Of course, it’s possible to memorize the constellations and their locations, but technology today has advanced to the point that there are apps that make memorization unnecessary. So today, we’ll take a look at the best astronomy apps.

These apps aren’t just useful for stargazing; you can also use them for learning more about the latest space-related news. Read on for all the details below.

International Space Station Detector App

The ISS has a free app for iOS and Android, though it’s not a stargazing app. However, if you’re a big fan of the space station and want to know its present location and more, this app will track it for you. To do this, however, the app will need info on your location, but that’s the only permission you need to give it.

Once it has your location, the app will tell you how often the ISS is visible in the sky. Of course, as the space station travels at around 17,100 mph, the windows for ISS sightings are fleeting. But other information you’ll get with the ISS app includes how long until the next pass is and its visibility windows.

The ISS Detector app doesn’t just work for the most famous space stations. It can even detect China’s SpaceStation Tiangong. With in-app purchases, you can locate the Hubble Telescope, the planets, HAM radio satellites, and more.

Since SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have been deployed, the ISS Detector can also let you follow them. With the app’s help, a pair of good binoculars is all you need to spot them in orbit.

If you want, ISS Detector can send your phone notifications so you know when to watch for incoming satellites. This app is perfect for satellite and space station fans.

The free version contains ads but purchasing any extension will remove them. The paid version of the app even has Doppler shift calculations and transmitter frequency data for you to review.

ISS Live Now

The ISS Detector helps find out where the ISS and Tiangong space stations are, among other satellites. But ISS Live Now offers something different. It lets you see the Earth through cameras mounted on the ISS. The space station is 250 miles above Earth, providing a new perspective many people only dream of seeing in person.

ISS Live Now is free on both Google Play and the Apple Play Store. It uses Google Map’s ISS view, which tracks the space station’s orbit. A host of information is available, such as:

  • Speed
  • Longitude
  • Latitude
  • Altitude
  • The current country the ISS is located above
  • Day and night map of the land within ISS camera limits

Updates have also allowed the app to show the Earth’s cloud map. The cameras will let you see the clouds and whether they’re reducing the visibility of the Earth’s surface.

The cameras on this app provide various views, some live and others pre-recorded.

ISS CAM 1 HD provides HD images of the Earth

ISS CAM 2 is a live-streamed video that includes experiments, tests, maintenance, and NASA communications.

  • NASA TV Channel for programs and documentaries
  • NASA TV Media Channel, NASA’s secondary TV channel
  • ESA TV, the European Space Agency’s live channel with programs and documentaries

Eventually, the app plans to add these channels:

  • SpaceX Live Streams
  • Roscosmos TV so you can watch Russian spacewalks

Besides streaming, the app can notify you when there are ISS sunrises and sunsets if the ISS is passing through your region, and more. Special events like launches and spacewalks are part of the notifications as well.

Though the app is free, there are in-app purchases available. So if you’re a big fan of the ISS, this app should be on your list.


For more than 10 years, SkyView has been letting users enjoy stargazing with the help of technology. There are free and paid versions, but the latter is still considered inexpensive compared to the various stargazing apps available. SkyView Lite is the free one that has fewer features.

Both Apple and Android devices are compatible with SkyView. While it’s not the best or most comprehensive app, many amateurs are happy with SkyView.

SkyView uses augmented reality (AR) to help users identify stars, galaxies, and satellites. Then, you only need to point the camera at a celestial object and let SkyView work its magic. A night mode helps preserve your night vision, passing the image through a red or green light filter.

The AR functionality isn’t just for nighttime since it works perfectly fine during the day. The extensive database contains facts about thousands of celestial objects. Tapping on an object will bring up the information, including a link to a Wikipedia page.

With the time travel feature, users can find out what the sky looked like at different points in the past. Since celestial drift is a fact of life, stars and planets change positions over the centuries.

The app can even capture images for you to share with others.

Most importantly, SkyView doesn’t require Wi-Fi or GPS to work. So you can bring your smartphone while camping and find out what stars and galaxies are visible.

Skyview requires precise navigation to figure out where it is, but the smartphone’s onboard compass usually handles this job. If it somehow fails, there’s a manual alignment feature to help.

If you own a telescope, connect the app to it and use the Space Navigator extension. Of course, you’ll need to possess specific models to be able to use it, but you can easily direct them to view a particular object in the sky.

Even though there are some issues with the AR screen’s darkness and graphics fade, it’s a great app at an affordable price.

Star Rover

The days of needing to flip through astronomy books for info on a particular planet or star are over now that all the data can be in your hands. Instead, Star Rover is an app that makes stargazing exciting and convenient. It has similar AR functionality as SkyView, allowing you to point at something and receive information. In addition, Star Rover has beautiful graphics as part of its AR experience. The app is available for Android and iOS, but there are no free versions.

Luckily, Star Rover can be yours for the price of a small order of fries from your favorite fast-food restaurant. It’s very affordable if you’re not looking for many features. So, beginners starting stargazing will find it a valuable addition to their arsenal.

Unlike SkyView, which uses the internal compass, Star Rover lets you manually set your location from the app. That way, you can engage in stargazing no matter where you are. Sometimes there are minor bugs, but the fix is to restart the app, which usually solves the problem.

There’s also a feature that lets you see what the sky looked like at different points in the Earth’s history. This is also something Skyview offers.

If you’re looking for more unique features, try Star Rover’s moon phase calendar and eclipse simulation function. You can see an eclipse’s stages in detail.

Another feature lets you look at what’s below the horizon and even beyond it. This function can even detect satellites and the ISS.

Star Rover isn’t the best stargazing or astronomy app out there, but its low price makes it a good choice for amateurs.

astronomy app


Android device lovers are the only ones who can download Nightshift: Stargazing & Astronomy. Nightshift is more beneficial for stargazing planning than identifying stars and objects in the sky. In addition, it’s free with ads.

With Nightshift, you can plan your stargazing trips ahead of time since the app tells the conditions with forecasts. For example, a clear night notification will be accompanied by how long you can marvel at the stars, with choice periods sometimes reaching 12 hours.

The dashboard is where you find this and much more information. It contains all the essential things amateur stargazers want to see.

  • Day length
  • Night length
  • Planets and their visibility status
  • Lunar eclipses
  • Astronomy events
  • Active meteor showers
  • Noctilucent clouds

The moon phase and lunar eclipse data help you identify the moon’s current status and phase. You can find out the day of the next full moon, new moon, and more. Nightshift will let you know everything ahead of time.

In addition, the app contains a calendar of all partial and total lunar eclipses from 1801 to 2200. When a Blood Moon is about to happen, you get specific advice for viewing it from your favorite stargazing location.

Notifications of oppositions (when the Earth is between the sun and a planet) allow you to see planets like Jupiter and Neptune. Nightshift will inform you exactly when the next one will happen so you can plan for the viewing. The app also shows the greatest elongation for Venus and Mercury to let you view them at the perfect moment.

You also get a twilight diagram for all planets, which tells you the best times to view them in full glory and what telescopes you’ll need.

When you’re checking a celestial object’s information, you’ll be impressed with how much info Nightshift has, including:

  • Object classification
  • Brightness
  • Angular size
  • Distance
  • Cross-references from other catalogs

With the help of Nightshift’s many powerful algorithms, stargazing and astronomy are made easy. So plan ahead with the help of this app today.

The Official NASA App

You won’t be able to go stargazing with this app from NASA, but it does help you satisfy your astronomy itch. It grants you access to the ISS cameras from the High-Definition Earth Viewing experiment. Both iOS and Android devices can download it.

This app is primarily a way to learn more about the history of astronomy and man’s journey to outer space. There are pictures and videos (all free to view) from the missions and flights that NASA crew members take. NASA also updates the app with new media for fans to enjoy.

With the ability to watch a sunset from space and enjoy NASA’s TV station, astronomy fans can keep up with the latest discoveries. The app has news, sightings, and even tweets to enjoy.

GoSkyWatch Planetarium

An iOS exclusive, GoSkyWatch Planetarium promises precisely what the name says. There’s no AR functionality to identify celestial objects using the camera, but the app will orient itself so you can determine what’s in the night sky as you watch. In addition, the app has information on all stars visible to unaided eyes.

Use the search button to search for a specific planet or comet. The app will then guide you in the right direction. The search function can also sort stars by name, magnitude, or distance.

Thanks to modern technology, you can look at incredible images of the planets, the Milky Way, and other objects in space. In addition, the app has day and sidereal animations of the skies if you’re a fan of time lapses.

The human eye can’t see below the horizon, but GoSkyWatch Planetarium can. So if you’re oriented correctly, the app will show you what’s out of sight. Then, you can check out the in-depth information with a tap.

GoSkyWatch Planetarium has access to both the Messier and Caldwell catalogs. These are star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies that amateur astronomers can see with the help of telescopes. The former catalog covers only the Northern Hemisphere, but Sir Patrick Moore avoided the objects Messier recorded while tracking the whole sky. With GoSkyWatch, you can look at these galaxies far from Earth and see beautiful objects in the sky that you won’t forget.

The app also has resources for learning. The information links to Wikipedia, and you can access Ian Ridpath’s StarTales. You can even interact with a digital ephemeris containing planetary and star data, among many other statistics.

While you don’t need the internet for the base function, it’s required for accessing Wikipedia pages and StarTales.

Unlike some apps, GoSkyWatch Planetarium has no in-app purchases. Instead, new features all arrive as free updates with complete functionality.

Sky Tonight

Sky Tonight is a new app released in late 2021. It’s available on iOS, Android, and even Huawei AppGallery. Vito Technology Team, the developer, is also behind Star Walk 2. While both apps have similarities, the latter is more geared towards celestial object identification.

With less focus on 3D models and special effects, Sky Tonight will instead bring all the information you need and then some to one place for your viewing. Point your device at something in the sky and watch as the AR functionality identifies it.

A targeted search mode also filters out whatever you’re not looking for. So, for example, if you’re more interested in stars, you can configure Sky Tonight to only highlight stars.

Celestial objects are constantly moving, so Sky Tonight introduced a feature called “interactive trajectory.” It shows how they’re moving relative to your position.

Some people like to plan astronomical trips ahead of time, and Sky Tonight has a future view that can be useful. Once you tap the bell icon, it bookmarks the occasion so you can prepare. The astronomical calendar lists events a month in advance and from a year ago.

In the What’s New section, the app has the latest news from the astronomy sector. You’ll enjoy reading about the newest technologies or discoveries.

Sky Tonight is one of the best new astronomy apps available now, thanks to the developer’s extensive experience making such apps.

Google Sky

Google Sky is Google’s offering for astronomy fans who want to view the visible universe through several sources:

  • Sloan Digital Sky Survey
  • Digitized Sky Survey
  • Hubble Space Telescope

You can see the constellations, Hubble Space Telescope highlights, and even the universe in X-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared. There’s even a historical drawing by Giovanni Maria Cassini from 1792 that you can peruse.

With Google Sky, you can type the name of a planet, star, or galaxy in the search box, and you’ll be taken there. Google even accounts for misspellings and will bring you to the closest match.

While not the most convenient app, it’s still a valuable resource for astronomy fans who want to see their favorite parts of the galaxy.

Protect Your Night Vision

Some apps above have a night vision saving feature, which makes everything on the screen look red. This is done to help your eyes see the stars clearly at night without needing a bright screen that can affect your night vision. By not using a color filter, the bright screen can force you to wait for your eyes to adapt again.

iPhones have this function built into the settings, but Android users may have to use the one their apps provide or download a separate app. Even though a filter isn’t strictly necessary, it helps make your stargazing session more memorable.

Much More to Discover

Astronomy helps us learn more about what’s outside of our planet, and these are the best astronomy apps you can find on the internet. Most of them are for mobile devices, but some are for PCs. So regardless of your platform, each stargazing trip with one of these apps can be a unique experience.

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