June 24, 2018

Cosmic Watch: An Update

Cosmic Watch screen grab.

Who wouldn’t want your very own Earth and Solar System to play with? Recently, we reviewed the Cosmic Watch App. This application (available for Android and Iphone for $4.99 US)… released last year gives you a unique “outside looking in view” of the apparent sky along with the planets, Moon, Sun and constellations…

Now, we’re happy to announce that we’ve had a chance to test drive the 2.0 update version of Cosmic Watch 2.0, and we’re happy to report that we (mostly) like what we see.

What’s new? Here’s what’s in the Cosmic Watch 2.0 Update:

-A new and improved sky view, complete with sky pointing capability now featured in lots of astronomy apps. This is great for real time views of planets, stars and constellations from your respective locale. This is the familiar “inside looking out” viewing that allows the user to find planets, the Moon and constellations in the sky from a given location.

-A new and expanded solar system view, both heliocentric and apparent geocentric.

-A handy notifications setting for astronomical events. This is actually a nifty feature, something I’d hunted for on other sunrise/sunset apps: a simple alert service that tells me when an event occurs for a particular location. Cosmic Watch 2.0 tells you rising/setting/transit times for the Sun, the same for the Moon, and upcoming eclipses.

From Pluto, looking back.

-An expanded cities and location database.

-The ability to switch the Earth view on and off, and pan through solar system views out to Pluto.

This makes Cosmic Watch a handy utility in the field, and the pointing accuracy seems to be spot on. We’d like to see maybe a red light filter on Cosmic Watch, though we can always simply use the blue light night reading settings to dim the screen, and preserve our night vision.

We’d also like to see a comparative field of view indicator (maybe 10 degrees, 5 degrees and one degree wide) for telescope pointing. Then it would just be a matter of boresighting your smartphone with Cosmic Watch running (say, aiming both at a bright planet or star) adjusting them slightly, then you could actually use this utility to aim and slew around the sky. I haven’t got this method to work with other apps (yet) as you need a fairly high degree of pointing accuracy, but I think Cosmic Watch comes close. This would certainly be a more intuitive method of slewing a telescope around the sky, as opposed to scrolling through endless menus and sub directories dictated by many GOTO programs.

Astrology versus astronomy – Yes, there is an appeal to the astrology in Cosmic Watch, at least to those who still care to actually look at the sky. Curiously, it still uses names for astronomical constellations (i.e. Scorpius versus Scorpio, Capricornus versus Capricorn, etc) something lots of astronomy apps actually confuse in reverse (i.e., inserting astrological signs for astronomical constellations)

One tiny issue: we found it difficult to change up locations manually. Overall, though, I’d recommend Cosmic Watch as an essential utility in your astronomical app arsenal.

And I got the upgrade just in time, to scout for the Ramadan Moon and first crescent sighting on June 14th, 2018!

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