Space is vast — infinite, even — and mysterious and mesmerizing. And guess what? It’s never been easier to bring all of the amazing things about space right to your phone.
This may seem a bit counterintuitive. After all, space is never-ending, and your phone is, comparatively speaking, quite small. But current phone screens are like mini-HD TVs, and the breadth of WiFi and signal coverage means you can enjoy space from your phone almost anywhere.
Be it via Twitter accounts, livestreams, or apps, there’s an abundance of space riches to enjoy on the go. Think of it like your little, personal mission control. If you’re not taking advantage, you’re missing out. Here’s how you can experience all that space has to offer you on your mobile device.
An expanding Twitterverse
Space Twitter can be almost as overwhelming as space itself, but curating a list of accounts makes it easier to handle and navigate.
The best place to start is with the numerous (dozens of, actually) NASA accounts, from the official account to those of astronauts. They’ll give you an overarching view of what’s happening at America’s space agency.
Some NASA accounts are associated with actual missions. You’ll find everything from the majesty of photos posted on the Cassini mission account (RIP) to the ongoing discoveries posted on the Mars Curiosity Rover account to all that Curiosity’s new red planet neighbor, InSight, has to share.
Don’t sleep on tons of other space accounts, from the European Space Agency to the International Space Station, all of which share discoveries, images, videos, and more. They’re all available in a single app.
Whichever accounts you follow, be sure to add the Hubble app for high-res images from the most famous telescope in history.
#HubbleFriday NGC1866 is no ordinary star cluster. It is a surprisingly young globular cluster situated close enough to us that its stars can be studied individually — no small feat given the mammoth distances involved in studying the cosmos
Apps across the universe
As with the Twitter accounts, there are too many space-related apps to count. I’ve narrowed it down to three of my personal favorites, with a few other alternatives. Be sure to explore your app store of choice, though, for even more options.
While Star Chart hasn’t been updated in several years, it still serves as one of my favorite constellation apps, utilizing geolocation and augmented reality (AR) to let you know exactly what you’re looking at when you gaze up at the stars.
Point your phone at an object in the sky — star, planet, or constellation — to learn what you’re looking at, and then tap that object for information. Boom, science!
If you’re looking for other sky-watching apps with similar features, consider Night Sky or SkyView.
Fun fact: Did you know that a few times a year, you can look up and watch the International Space Station (ISS) zoom across the sky? The ISS Spotter app will help you plot when and where the ISS will be in viewing range.
The ISS Spotter shows you where the ISS currently is as well as a list of upcoming appearances over your locations, complete with star-ratings so you can make sure you get the best view. Other features include alarm settings so you don’t miss out and a screen that can use your location to point you to the spot in the sky where the ISS will appear. It even includes how high up in the sky you need to look.
If web-based features are more your thing, there’s also the Spot The Station website, where you can enter your address and generate email alerts for upcoming chances to spot the ISS as it twinkles down on you from above.