8 Free Apps for Astronomy Fans

Mars and the milky way over the south coast of the Isle of Wight. (Photo: Brian Tomlinson/Flickr)

The recent blood moon had sky gazers flocking outside to see the beautiful lunar eclipse, and likely instilled a curiosity about the night sky in many. If you find yourself wanting to know more about stars, planets and other objects in our universe, all you need is a smartphone and one or two of the following free apps.


This app has all the basics you could want in an easy-to-use interface. View the sky in 2-D or 3-D, and navigate simply by moving your iPhone. It will tell you when planets are visible, and even has rotating globes of our solar system's planets and Earth's moon. (iPhone)


If you'd like to know more about planets beyond our solar system, Exoplanet is a great app. Updated each time a new discovery is confirmed, you can explore the Milky Way and everything in it. It includes visualizations and animations, an augmented reality map of the night sky that you navigate by moving your phone, and a 3-D model of our Milky Way among other great features. (iPhone)

Star & Planet Finder

This app features an augmented reality display that guides you to the star you've selected to view. It shows data about each planet, and includes maps for tracking constellations and satellites. There are $0.99 upgrades for additional celestial bodies. (iPhone)

Star Chart

One of the most popular free astronomy apps out there, Star Chart uses augmented reality to look at the sky, and shows you just what you're looking at using a 3-D simulation of the night sky. You can use it during daylight hours to view what constellations are drown out by the sun's light. Planets in our solar system (including 3-D details) and more than 120,000 stars are included. And you can even shift backward in time to the sky 10,000 years ago. Learn more about the figures behind constellation names thanks to the beautiful renderings that are overlayed on the stars. (iPhone and Android)

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Less interested in real-time star-gazing and more interested in simply great images of the universe? This app provides a new photo every day. You can also shake your phone to get a random image, or you can browse through the archives of NASA's high resolution images of space and all its amazingness.(iPhone)

Moon Atlas

Explore the moon in all it's detail using a 3-D globe on your phone. Zoom in to a place to get more details, including labels of objects and locations — over 1,800 features are included. Double tap to get more information about features you're most interested in. (iPhone)

SkyView® Free - Explore the Universe

Using augmented reality, simply point your phone at the sky and you'll be able to identify galaxies, stars, constellations and satellites at any time of day or night. You can time travel to the past or future to see what a sky looked like on a certain date. Because neither WiFi nor GPS are needed, you can use the app even when off grid while camping.(iPhone)


A great app to use to guide you in where to point your telescope. Just strap the phone onto the optical tube assembly and you'll get a PUSHTO guide that will help you locate different stars or planets you're interested in viewing. (Android)