We're sure we're not the only ones who walked out of Gravity, The Martian and Interstellar and instantly added NASA and ISRO onto our Twitter feed. If, like us, you too have religiously clapped for every space shuttle lift-off ever since and even run to the balcony at 3am to spot Jupiter chasing Mars, then you're going to find Cosmic Watch a real treat.The app is a state-of-the-art real time world-clock, and it looks stunning. It works as an antikythera mechanism, an orrery, an armillary sphere, a time travel machine, an astral-chart generator and an astrolabe. No, don't be embarrassed, we had to Google those words too, and that's the first of many beautiful things you discover through this app.
The app's home screen, which opens in a full-screen, horizontal format only, will make your jaw drop. It's a time piece unlike any we've seen before on our phones. The clock face is built in the ecliptic, around planet Earth. It's what your view would be if you were floating about in outer space, watching the planets in orbit, with Earth as your focal point.
You get various viewing options to play with and play you will. You can view the Earth with or without the sky cover, with or without the constellations; you can view it as a contained celestial sphere, or even as an open sky that coats your entire screen with interstellar gas and dust - it's simply breathtaking, and the various combinations lead to fascinating results.
Twirl the globe on any axis and view the sky along with the position of the Sun, Moon and planets over any city, along with the time of day there in real time. The beauty of this lies in observing how darkness falls upon the cities as that part of the globe rotates away from the Sun.
The first thing we found ourselves playing with is the real-time world clock (because it's the one function we readily understand). Tap on a city, and you'll know the time of the day there, down to the very second, and be able to see the constellations that lie above it.
Now here's the fun part: Time travel. Feed in your place of birth, along with the date and if you know it, the time. And viola! You'll have in front of you the alignment of all the planets in the skies above you at the exact minute you were born. Yes, yours will be the coolest-looking birthchart on those match-making websites.
If you're keen to delve deeper into the movements of the universe, align the Cosmic Watch with the cardinal points and use the inbuilt compass for orientation. You can now experience your real-time position in the cosmos, adjust your telescope if you have one or, like us, simply marvel at the vastness of it all.