As a happy iPhone user, I’ve only once been the least bit tempted to trade it in for a handset running Android. That was last month, on a rare clear night in Seattle, when a friend showed me Google Sky Map.
With the app open, you hold your phone up to the sky, and using the built-in GPS and position sensor, Sky Map shows you an accurate map of the night sky, with all the constellations and stars named.
It’s not going to make you any more productive, or help you stay in touch with your friends, or save your life. (Although knowing the position of the North Star could help get you out of the wilderness.) It was just one of those rare tech moments that made me feel like I was living in a TV show about the future. And you can’t get it on the iPhone.
Today, Sky Map got even better. Now you can scroll through time to see the position of the stars and other celestial objects in an hour, a month, or 100 years. It can also take you 100 years back in time.
What could you use this for? If you’re into astrology, you could take a gander at the precise position of the stars on the night you were born and draw some sort of conclusion. Astronomy geeks can track things like solar eclipses, comets, and the movement of the planets. For the rest of us, it simply adds a little more wonder to the night sky, and maybe provides one small incentive to get out from in front of your TV or computer monitor and go for a walk. I understand that Venus is beautiful this time of year.
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