Some space geeks are calling today “The Day the Earth Smiled,” because the Cassini probe is set to take a picture of our planet as seen from Saturn later this afternoon. To honor this momentous occasion, the maker of astronomy software SkySafari is giving away basic versions for iOS and OS X (and discounting the Android version) through Sunday.
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You might have heard that today’s a pretty special day, astronomically speaking. Venus is in transit between Earth and the Sun today, which is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Today only, right before sunset in the United States, if you look up at the sun, you’ll be able to see the silhouetted Venus passing between us and our life-giving star. And due to the differences between Venus’s solar year and our own orbit around the Sun, you’ll have to wait a hundred years until this event happens again.
In other words, if you’re American, you don’t want to miss this if you have any curiosity about the heavens at all. And luckily, there’s an app that will help you make sure you don’t.
Celebrity physicist Brian Cox is famous in the U.K. for making physics accessible to the public through bestselling books and several popular TV series. Now he brings elements of both to a gorgeous new iPad app: Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe ($6.99).
Featuring amazing animations and lush, high-production video, the app will sweep you back in time to witness the Big Bang, and then look ahead to the universe’s end, when the last black dwarfs will fizzle away to entropy.
As Prof. Cox points out: while the universe evolves momentarily from order to chaos, now is a precious window of time when life is briefly possible, for us to be able to contemplate the universe…
Back when OS X Lion first came out, amateur and pro astronomers alike noted with bemusement that Apple had used their new operating system as an excuse to alter the Universe according to their whim. Most notably, when picking a picture of the Andromeda Galaxy as OS X Lion’s default wallpaper, Apple photoshopped several stars and an entire separate galaxy out of the picture.
When Apple debuted the next version of OS X, Mountain Lion, with a brand new galactic image as the default wallpaper, we wondered if Apple had done it again. As it turns out, they have.
For those of us setting out to catch the lunar eclipse early tomorrow morning — here’s a great piece in the Christian Science Monitor on why it’ll be so spectacular out here west of the Rockies — there’s nothing like an iPad armed with a great astronomy app. But according to Tim DeBenedictis, developer of SkySafari 3, his app is the only one that can predict this — and any other — eclipse. That’s fine with us, since he’s offering his app for free all this weekend.
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.