SkySafari Is Now Free
For many of us, the SkySafari mobile application has long served as the standard against which we measure all other planetarium apps. Bottom line: It’s that good.
What might have made SkySafari even more inviting? Well, maybe if it had been free. And now, it is. The basic version, that is. SkySafari Plus and SkySafari Pro, which add telescope control, a larger database and more features, remain paid options. But for family and friends who don’t require such extreme levels of astronomy-app capabilities, the basic version of SkySafari is easy to recommend … especially now that it’s free.
SkySafari’s owner and developer, Simulation Curriculum, calls the app “Professional Telescope Astronomy Software,” and it is surely that. But most who don’t search for it by name will find it in Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store with a search for “planetarium app,” and it’s that, too – a planetarium app, albeit a highly-sophisticated one.
But Simulation Curriculum’s recently-announced LiveSky? We are still searching for a one-word or short-phrase description. Is it an app, a service, a social network, an observation planner, or all the above? We’re working on a feature article that attempts to answer those questions, and much more. For now, here’s what the company’s July 2018 press release has to say:
LiveSky is a “social page to share your passion for astronomy,” that facilitates “community observing with popular objects and analytics” and offers “incredible features for planning observing sessions,” with “powerful tools to capture and organize your observations.” It’s “the best astronomy app, SkySafari, in a web browser” and “simply the best way to view and manage SkySafari data.” In short, it’s a way for users “to take SkySafari to a totally new level…”
LiveSky gives you the ability to, “Share images, observations and full simulations with friends, family and social media. It allows you to, “See intriguing regional observing activity along with popular objects being targeted,” to “Sync, view, export and edit your SkySafari data and settings files in a fin, feature-filled environment,” and to “Experience the most efficient way to manage your observing data and session planning.”
– “Export and share, in OAL format, your SkySafari data from LiveSky at anytime. We will never hold your data hostage.
– Add, edit and delete all of your observations, sessions, lists, equipment, sites, FOV indicators, and settings files.
-An interactive web-based sky chart that runs in any internet browser, accessible on any device.
-Our secure cloud automatically backs up, syncs and restores all your SkySafari 6 data across all your devices.
-A curated list of the best astronomical events each month – with all events also viewable in SkySafari Web.
– ‘Live’ community observing analytics – leaderboard, trending objects, regional activity.”
The key appears to be that third item, “Observers can now access SkySafari in any web browser with LiveSky premium,” and yes, for those of us whose digital focus remains as much on PCs and Macs as on mobile devices, that is a big deal.
LiveSky Basic is free and allows users to view daily and regional activity on the service’s leaderboard, view and export OAL, view observing sessions, view and export observing lists and settings files (.skylist), and view equipment, observing sites and field-of-view indicators.
LiveSky Premium allows users to also access (1) all stats and SkySafari web-target links, (2) to edit and delete observations in SkySafari Web, (3) to add, edit and delete observing sessions, observing lists, equipment, observing sites, field-of-view indicators and settings files. LiveSky Premium is currently priced at $2.99US per month or $19.99 per year, but for a limited time, those who subscribe to the annual plan get 50 percent off their first year, for a net of $9.99.
Smartphone cameras are becoming astoundingly capable, and the latest SkySafari iOS app is taking fullest advantage of that by leveraging those cameras to deliver an augmented-reality view of the sky, blending a simulated sky chart with a real-time view of users’ actual sky and surroundings.
Because it displays a real-time image of the sky actually overhead, rather than what might be visible from some generic location, SkySafari’s AR mode is sure to make it easier for users – especially those new to astronomy – to get oriented to their surrounding sky and to identify planets, stars and constellations.
SkySafari 6 Pro for Android
SkySafari 6 Pro will (optionally) back up all of your observing data in our secure cloud storage and make it easily accessible to multiple devices as well as from its new web interface, LiveSky.com.
It uses the latest and greatest UCAC5 star catalog. If 25 million stars down to 15-magnitude isn’t enough for you, an easy in-app purchase gets you down to 16.5-magnitude and a whopping 100 million stars. The PGC catalog includes galaxies down to 18th magnitude. Want more galaxies? How about 2.6 million more? An in-app purchase gives you access to the largest galaxy database available for your device.
A redesign of its tools puts the active observer first. Quick access to features like your equipment, observing sites, lists, and observations make it easy and enjoyable to get out, observe, and record your observations. The observing-sessions feature lets you collect your observations into groups that span a few hours, or a few nights. Make the most of your time under the stars. Version 6 Pro’s updated planner is a powerful tool that lets you create a list of targets for your observing session with filters like object types, specific time ranges, constellation, catalog, and more. Plan it and get more done.
Every old astronomy app these days lets your tilt and pan your device to show different parts of the sky, but who else lets you control your telescope that way? “Tilt to slew” is an optional mode allowing you to keep your eye in the eyepiece, and – using the accelerometers in your device – gently translate the movements of your hands into smooth telescope motion.
SkySafari 6 is more than just a mobile app, it’s a new system to help organize and share your observing experiences. With a free sign-up, you can see and share your observing data from the new web portal, LiveSky.com. Affordable premium memberships add online editing, so you can not only view, but also edit your observations, add new observing sites, manage your equipment and more.
Finally, you can view, edit and manage your settings files with SkySafari Web, the fully functional web version.