Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned stargazer, the night skies are filled with many wonders and mysteries that adults and kids can thoroughly enjoy. These apps feature sunrise and sunset schedules, the stars you can see overhead, images of the galaxy, learn about planets and constellations, are user friendly, have beautiful interfaces and more. Don’t let another night sky go by without downloading one of these apps from our list of the best stargazing apps for the iPad.
The best stargazing apps for the iPad
3 May 2020, by Cherry Mae Torrevillas
Let the StarTracker app guide you to explore the universe. Just hold up and point the device to the sky and have fun. You can see any stars, constellations and deep sky objects you are watching in reality. All data is offline so you can get outdoors with your friends and start stargazing.
- Sun, Moon, planets, 88 Constellations and 8000+ stars visible to the naked eyes
- 3D compass in AR mode, indicate position of objects your searched
- Smooth motion flow and quick response which is realized by cutting edge signal processing technique
- Superb high-quality graphic display by enabling the retina display of the device and the full screen anti-aliasing technology employment
Do you ever go outside and wonder what stars you see when you look up? SkyView® Free can help. Just launch the app and it will show and identify objects in the sky, both night and day. You can find your favorite constellations, hunt out the moon, see distant galaxies, and more. You’ll also identify satellites and the ISS when it goes by. You can jump to the past and see how the sky would look on different dates, capture images to share on social media, and more.
If you choose to upgrade to the full version, you get a Today Widget that shows tonight’s brightest celestial objects, all of the in-app purchases offered, and more objects.
- Identify objects in the sky
- Use it day or night
- See constellations, Moon, galaxies, and more
- Easy to use
- Free with in-app purchases
There is a whole universe out there; all you need to do is look up. And when you look through your iPhone or iPad, use Star Chart to identify and locate the objects that you see. The app uses the in-built GPS to create a 3D simulation of the objects in the sky - the ones you see and even the ones you cannot. The unique thing about this app is that you can also use it in armchair mode where you simply slide around the sky using finger gestures instead of pointing. There is a database of over 120,000 stars.
- GPS technology
- 3d simulation
- Point and view
- Navigate using hand gestures
- Database of 120,000 stars
Exoplanet is an amazing resource for kids and adults alike! It was developed by a professional astronomer, and is meant to help you learn about the known exoplanets beyond our solar system. You get a fantastic 3D model of the Milky Way that maps out where each exoplanet is located, interactive visualizations, and animations of their orbits. Push notifications will let you know when a new exoplanet is discovered and the app has been updated. Want to know a bit more about this app? Check out our review.
- Interactive animations and visualizations
- Physical properties of all known exoplanets and their host stars
- Updated on a daily basis
- Developed by an actual professional astronomer
- Real-time ray tracing on the GPU
Exoplanet app review: free and educational guide to exoplanets
Moon Globe by Midnight Martian teaches you so much about the Moon, you'll wonder why you waited this long to get the app. The multi-touch screen allows you to manipulate your view: switch to Telescope mode to see it as it appears from your location, spin above the surface, or click on any of the tag cloud labels to learn about that specific feature or spacecraft. The cool thing is that each label is sized to be exactly the same size as the item it names. Pinch to zoom in and out, and the label will increase or decrease in size along with it.
- Multi-touch screen
- Telescope mode shows you the Moon as it appears from your location
- Spin above the surface
- Tap on any of the labels to learn about that feature or spacecraft
- The labels are the same size as the item they name
Have you ever looked in the sky and wondered what it was you were looking at? This is a mini, free version of Pocket Universe so you can check out the basic features before you invest in the full app. The Express app shows you thousands of solar system objects, constellations, and stars, all in a real-time rendered view of the sky. As you move, the view moves too, turning your device into a little window to the universe. The full version gives you access to more features like the ability to track the International Space Station, go for a virtual walk on Mars, and play quizzes.
- Smaller, free version of Pocket Universe
- Shows you thousands of solar system objects, constellations, and stars
- Real-time rendered view of the sky
- The view on the app moves as you move
- The full version offers more features like a virtual walk on Mars, quizzes, and more
iCSC was designed to show you a 48-hour time frame in which you can expect dark, clear skies for a specific observing site. This will save you time and frustration because you will be able to know ahead of time where to go to get the best, longest view. Data from Allan Rahill of the Canadian Meteorological Center is used in over 4600 charts that provide Transparency, Cloud Cover, Seeing, Darkness, Humidity Wind, and Temperature. If you need help, enable the optional legend. Search the charts by location, title, or with a map, then save the charts you use often.
- Shows you a 48-hour time frame in which to expect good skies for viewing from certain locations
- Save yourself time and frustration
- Know ahead of time where to get the best, longest view of the night sky
- More than 4600 charts
- Save the charts you use most often
Sky Guide is an easy-to-use app for your iPad or iPhone. To use it, hold it towards the sky and you'll be able to find satellites, planets, constellations, and other heavenly bodies. It's suitable for people of all experience levels and all ages. You can also search for specific bodies and the app will point you in the right direction with an arrow. You can watch satellites track overhead, go into the past or forward into the future with cinematic time controls, and become fully immersed in the visuals. Wondering where the ISS is? You can sign up for notifications for when it is due to be overhead.
- Easy-to-use app
- Just point your device at the sky
- Suitable for all ages and experience levels
- Search for specific celestial bodies and an arrow will show you where they are
- Receive notifications when the International Space Station will be overhead
Sky Guide app review: see what is really over your head
Solar Walk is an interactive app that shows all the satellites and planets of the solar system in their position in real time. You can navigate among the planets, zoom in to study them, and explore how they move. You'll learn about trajectories, the history of their exploration, inner structures, and geography. There is extensive information on each planet, ranging from size, composition of its atmosphere, mass, orbital velocity, thickness of structural layers, and exploratory missions. This app shows planets, moons, dwarf planets and asteroids, comets, missions, and satellites. There are also educational movies available to view.
- An interactive app that shows our solar system in 3D
- Navigate among the planets and zoom in to study them
- Learn about trajectories, the history of their exploration, inner structures, and geography
- Extensive information on each planet
- Learn about planets, moons, dwarf planets and asteroids, comets, missions, and satellites.
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Since 1985, Distant Suns has been available as a desktop program. Now it's available for your iPad. Why play silly jewel games when you can travel to the stars? This app has a super realistic display of the night sky yet remains easy to use for both professional astronomers and casual sky watchers, young and old. You don't need the Internet to use Distant Suns, which is nice. You can see a view from the Earth or elsewhere in the solar system, and watch the targets being monitored in real-time by the SETI Institute. You can read stories about each constellation, see current weather patterns on the earth, and view galaxies, nebula, and star clusters.
- Available as a desktop program since 1985, Distant Suns is a highly acclaimed astronomy app
- No Internet required
- Viewpoint lock
- Special mode preserves your night vision
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Are you interested in knowing when the next meteor shower is going to be? Meteor Shower Calendar Free is an iPad app that will show you a list of upcoming meteor showers and the approximate date for the best time to view them, with specific details about each shower. You can get notification reminders to let you know when the next shower is coming, set a night or day theme, see the phase of the moon on the next meteor shower peak date, and more. If you want more information about each meteor shower, you can launch a web search from within the app. The paid version contains all the same features, just without the ads.
- Notification reminders for next meteor shower
- Upcoming sunrise and sunset times
- In-app web search for details on meteor showers
- Current weather forecast
- Moon phase, Constellation details
Starmap 2 is an intelligent sky navigation tool that works on iPad, iPhone, and also your Apple Watch. Just hold your device in your line of vision and you'll see the map scanning the sky as you move it around. The app offers interactive multimedia courses for both advanced and beginner astronomers, and over 2.5 million stars in its maps. Some of the features you will enjoy include a Moon map with 9900 references, all common dark and bright nebulae catalogs, a Moon phase calendar, and more. For observation, you will get full night vision red mode, user locations, and a live time changer.
- Intelligent sky navigation tool
- Interactive media courses
- Over 2.5 million stars in its database
- Many free features
- In-app purchases for many more features