Mini meme: Stargazing apps

Twin the magic of technology with the majesty of the heavens to discover distant galaxies

The past few years have seen some pretty amazing progress in our attempts to study the universe.

Late last year we landed a spacecraft on a freaking comet, and now, as we type these very words, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is zooming past Pluto, capturing incredibly clear photos of the tiny ex-planet.

While you (probably) won’t get a chance to blast off into space yourself, there are plenty of apps available to help you fuel your passion from the comfort and safety of your armchair.


1. Star Walk series

Star Walk combines a beautiful, browsable representation of the heavens with an augmented reality view that overlays digital information on to the night sky. Jam-packed with facts, the original app exists for Windows Phone and Android, and a more ethereal sequel’s out for iOS, along with a version for kids.

Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone

Price: From £1.89

Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✭

Download Star Walk for iOS

Download Star Walk Kids for iOS

Download Star Walk for Android

Download Star Walk for Windows Phone

2. Mobile Observatory

This Android app isn’t especially pretty, but it’s certainly heavenly for stats wonks and astronomy geeks. Boasting similar (if less pleasing) sky views to Star Walk, it also includes exhaustive lists of objects and upcoming celestial events, a top-down solar system view, a handy ‘tonight’s best’ section, and sunrise/sunset listings.

Platforms: Android

Price: £3.56

Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩

Download Mobile Observatory for Android

3. Solar Walk

Solar Walk is a fully interactive 3D solar system model. Beautifully tactile, the app enables you to use pinch and drag gestures to effortlessly zoom and spin celestial bodies. There’s a fun 3D mode, and each planet has a detailed info page with photos, statistics and a glimpse at its internal structure.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: From £1.82 (plus IAP)

Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩

Download Solar Walk for iOS

Download Solar Walk for Android

4. Pocket Universe

It’s less elegant than Star Walk, but Pocket Universe’s features make it a worthwhile download for iOS-based stargazers. There are lists of nightly and monthly highlights, intriguing virtual Mars- and Moon-walks, and a star map voiceover, for if you’ve attached your device to a telescope and need to know what you’re looking at.

Platforms: iOS

Price: £2.29

Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩

Download Pocket Universe for iOS 

5. Exoplanet

If you stare into space and dream of other planets rather than stars, Exoplanet is a must. Its database lists known exoplanets, and correlation diagrams can be created based on user-selected criteria. The best bit, though, is the Milky Way map, which enables you to explore where these planets are in relation to Earth.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free (plus IAP) 

Stuff says: ✭✭✭✭✩

Download Exoplanet for iOS


No round-up of apps for stargazers would be complete without NASA’s own. The interface is pretty clunky, but that’s forgotten when you’re delving into the wealth of information on NASA missions, or browsing the huge collection of beautiful images and engaging videos that help you learn more about the universe we live in.

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: Free 

Stuff says: ✭✭✭

Download NASA app for iOS

​Download NASA app for Android