I cannot think of another iPad app that makes me want to take out the velcro and stick my iPad on the wall as much as Emerald Observatory does. This gorgeous app is simply stunning to look at and it is a useful astronomy tool too. Once you have it running on your iPad you won’t hesitate to display it for everyone to see and it will become a striking conversation piece.
Launch the app and you are presented with a single display filling the iPads screen that shows your local time, the current day and date (with leap year indicator), twilight start and end times, current moon phase, a display of day and night on a world map, the position of the sun, the rise and set times of the sun and moon along with the five brightest planets, and information about the zodiac. Need to go forward or backward in time? The app can handle that so you can see the different planetary alignments and sun positions.
It works in landscape or portrait modes so choose the one you like best. I tend to like using my iPad in landscape mode 99.999% of the time so that is what I chose. The funny thing is that I just returned my iPad dock to the Apple store and I may have finally found a use for it — the app looks astounding in portrait mode which is what that dock was made to support. Oh well, I can always pickup another dock later or roll my own stand for it.
Since the app displays a lot of data it was a good idea that the developer included some information about what you are observing on the screen as the app runs, but frankly that information isn’t as verbose as the developer’s website so go check that out.
I have to be honest some of the individual displays on the app aren’t for everyone unless you’re an amateur astronomer, drive a Tardis, or you hang out with Steven Hawking, but that doesn’t mean that you or your kids cannot learn about them. I have an interest in astronomy and find some of the information displayed to be useful, but I’m still learning about my new hobby. I think this app will help me to better understand some aspects of astronomy.
The app is available in the iTunes App Store for only $.99 (iTunes Link) and you shouldn’t hesitate to buy it if you have an iPad, an interest in Astronomy, or need something better looking than a lava lamp on your desk. While you are deciding whether to buy this app or not I’ll be looking for some velcro.