The autumnal equinox is now upon us, as today marks the official transition from summer to fall. While this might not be welcome news to some, it does provide something everyone can look forward to: the appearance of the Harvest Moon. Not only is this moon the largest full moon of the year, but also, on the night of September 27, a total lunar eclipse will occur.
All of these major events act as the doorway to the best season for stargazing. Due to less humidity in the air, it’s the perfect time to grab a friend and turn your heads to the sky for the clearest viewing – and your smartphone with stargazing apps can help! Google SkyMap is the best way to start your adventure. By just pointing your phone at the sky, the app uses compass data and GPS to help accurately identify stars, planets and other celestial objects. As you move your phone around, the map moves with you to show you at which part of the universe you’re pointed.
A search feature also allows you to search for objects you want to see and point you directly to them. This app requires an Android device, so if you’re using an iPhone device, download Sky Map instead. Interested in knowing what the sky looks like from Ireland? How about Hawaii? The Star Chart app for Android and iOS devices allows you to change your location to view the night sky from other points on Earth, and through simple voice controls, you can explore the solar system by taking a tour of Mars or viewing the Cigar Galaxy.
Not sure where to even begin in your stargazing adventure? Mobile Observatory is the perfect tool to help interact with and learn about the Solar System. On an iPhone, download Sky Week Plus. Taking a telescope with you? Strap your phone onto the OTA of your telescope and use the SkEye Astronomy app to guide you on where to look. Orion StarSeek 4 for the iPhone also syncs to your telescope.
Some of the best locations to stargaze are in remote locations, but don’t let the access to power put a damper on your adventure. As you lay out your blankets and try to catch the wonders of the universe, keep your smartphone charged with a Mophie powerstation. Looking to up your stargazing game? Take advantage of Verizon’s largest 4G LTE network and use a Bose SoundLink Color to stream Neil Degrasse Tyson’s popular StarTalk podcast via your phone.