Identify constellations and planets using Google Sky Map! This application uses the on-board array of sensors in a smartphone to determine the location and orientation of the phone and generate a real-time ‘map of the sky’.

Google Sky Map installed in an XPERIA 10 mini Pro

To identify objects, just hold the phone against the sky and the application automatically plots the current sky objects. A screenshot is shown below:

Navigate the sky using Google Sky Map

It has a ‘search’ function that helps the user locate any particular object in its database.

Locating planet Mars using Google Sky Map

As a handy star map, it can also be set to ‘night mode’ to preserve dark adaptation.

Night mode preserves dark-adaptation

By attaching the phone to a telescope by means of DIY mounting mechanism (below), objects may be located through Push-To, a system of locating objects done by manually pushing the telescope’s tube until the object of interest is found, or what is called a poor man’s Go-To. :)

A DIY mounting bracket for attaching a mobile phone to a telescope (masking tape, while not very elegant, will also work)

Using an Google Sky Map as digital ‘finder’

Google Sky Map is available for free and may be downloaded through the Google Marketplace. Everything installs automatically, but in case you are having problems, you can manually modify the preferences in the ‘Settings’ tab. Below are the typical settings for an observer in the Philippines.

Set the (1) latitude: 14, set the (2) longitude: 121, set the (3) time zone: +8.

This application is highly recommend to anyone fascinated with the night sky. If you are having any problems setting up your phone, feel free to leave a comment below. Clear skies!

For featured photos, click here.
For tutorials on how to get started with astrophotography, click here.
For DIY astronomy projects useful for astrophotography, click here.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)

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