Star Walk 2 - Guide to the Sky Day and Night ($2.99) by Vito Technology Inc. is the sequel to the original Star Walk, which is one of the more popular apps for stargazing. If you enjoy exploring the stars, then this is a must-have app for your arsenal.
I am not always outside at night, looking up at the stars, mostly because there are way too many lights out where I live in Southern California. If I want to take stargazing seriously, I’d definitely have to plan a trip over the weekend to get away from the city. Still, just because I don’t get the chance to see the stars daily, I enjoy astronomy. So when I was informed of a follow-up to Star Walk, I was eager to check it out.
Star Walk 2 features a simple and cleaner interface that I’m in love with. While the original app had an update that made it look great on iOS 7, Star Walk 2 has more vibrant colors, smoother movement, and a much more atmospheric experience, thanks to the full 3-D models of celestial bodies in the sky. The handcrafted artwork is delightful to look at, and the app features buttery smooth transitions as you point your device at the sky (it makes use of the device gyroscope). To complete the stargazing experience, there is a soothing soundtrack that plays in the foreground, although you can turn it off if needed.
If you have not used Star Walk before, don’t worry! Star Walk 2 features a full tutorial on the first launch, and you can access it later from the menu. You’ll be prompted for location access and push notifications if desired.
The main screen of Star Walk 2 is the sky, of course. You can tap on the compass in the corner to have the app follow your movement as you explore the sky. It’s also possible to seamlessly switch your device from portrait to landscape mode as you scrutinize the cosmos. Tapping on the camera button will bring up an augmented reality view of the sky, with your camera serving as the backdrop for constellations, planets, and stars to fall on. You can also use your finger to move the sky around in the app, although this will only work in portrait mode.
If you tap on the clock in the corner (when not in real-time), you will be able to scroll through a wheel on the side to see how the stars and planets move over time. There’s also another wheel that you can use to change the filter of the app, and this includes gamma ray, x-ray, H-alpha, infrared, microwave, and radio. And for the times you’re out at night to do real stargazing, there is a night-time soft red mode (accessible in the settings) to help you preserve your night vision.
Star Walk 2 comes with full-featured search functionality, which you can access with a tap of the magnifying glass button. From here, you can browse the list of all constellations, planets, meteor showers, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, deep sky objects (like nebulae), stars, and satellites. If an object is not dimmed out, you can tap it and Star Walk 2 will pinpoint it on the sky map, complete with coordinates. Or if you know exactly what you want to see, just type it in the search bar at the top.
Feel like examining something up close? Star Walk 2 can zoom in on objects millions of light years away, thanks to multitouch gestures (pinching) or just tapping on the object name. This is seriously a comprehensive guide to exploring the galaxy.
The Sky Live feature is also included in Star Walk 2, and this will give you the moon phases and when they will occur, sunrise and sunset, and some of the commonly seen planets.
I’m not a serious stargazer by any means, but I do love seeing what’s above our heads all the time. Star Walk 2 is beautifully designed with amazing 3-D models, is fast, and has plenty of powerful features to make the experience a great one.
I highly recommend checking this one out if you don’t have another astronomical app, or even if you have the original. Star Walk 2 is available on the App Store as a universal download for $2.99. There are also in-app purchases of $0.99 for individual content additions like extended solar systems, satellites, and constellations (this one is currently free). All content can be unlocked for $1.99.