| Cult of Mac

Help NASA solve space’s mysteries with this asteroid app


The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey  telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona
The Big Dipper rises behind the Catalina Sky Survey telescope. Photo: Catalina Sky Survey/University of Arizona

There are millions of asteroids in the Solar System and relatively few astronomers to track them. They’d hate to miss that one dangerous rogue headed on a collision course with Earth.

So NASA has made it easier for the amateur stargazer to record and compare their discoveries and put extra eyes on the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA and Planetary Resources Inc. have developed a computer program that is based on an algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. The new asteroid hunting application, available for free download here, was announced Sunday by NASA at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.

Give your iPhone superpowers with this ingenious optical attachment


The Carson Universal connect smartphones to almost any optical device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The Carson Universal connects smartphones to almost any optical device. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Your iPhone captures great imagery, but sometimes the built-in zoom just isn’t enough. An ingenious gadget that quickly connects smartphones to almost any optical device gives your everyday camera superpowers.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 The Carson Universal is an incredibly simple idea, but it delivers some pretty astonishing results. You can use it to connect your smartphone to telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, spotting scopes or almost any other optical device with a rounded eyepiece. Instead of buying a specialized, device-specific adapter, it’s a one-size-fits-all optical attachment.

“It kind of opens up the possibilities,” said Michelle Hyers, the engineer who designed the Carson Universal.

Amazing 4K video of the sun is perfect for your 5K iMac


Might as well be walking on the... Photo: NASA
Might as well be walking on the... Photo: NASA

If you got one of those amazing new iMacs with the crazy 5K pixel resolution, you’d be crazy not to watch this stunning animation of the sun by YouTuber James Tyrwhitt-Drake. You can gaze at the star at the heart of our solar system for a full eight minutes, using YouTube’s new 4K resolution setting and that killer new Mac.

This timelapse covers about 16 days of solar activity, focusing on the largest sunspot in the last 22 years (about two solar cycles), which is cleverly named AR 2192.

Check it out and enjoy.

SkySafari App Lets You Simulate Cassini’s Deep-Space Snapshot Of Earth [Daily Freebies]


Above: Cassini orbiting Saturn ten days before the imaging event, fully illuminated in sunlight. Simulated by SkySafari Pro on an iPhone 5.

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.

Watch The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun Today With The Help Of Your iPhone



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.

Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe iPad App Is Just Heavenly [Review]



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…

Forget The Death Star, Apple Has Destroyed Another Galaxy In Mountain Lion [Image]


This image of the NGC 3190 Galaxy is the one Apple altered for Mountain Lion.
This image of the NGC 3190 Galaxy is the one Apple altered for Mountain Lion.

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.

Catch Tomorrow Morning’s Lunar Eclipse With SkySafari 3 iOS App [Daily Freebie]



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.

Emerald Observatory for iPad is Freakin’ Gorgeous! [Review]



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.