Night Sky Stargazing in Augmented Reality a Review

Quick overview

Night sky is an app available on the apple store it has a free month trial period then it is $19.99 a year or $3.99 a month for a premium subscription. Night sky allows the user to overlay the current position of constellations on to the night sky in Augmented Reality. The user is able to see the names and shapes of the constellations, satellites, stars, and planets through the lens of their smartphone. The user can also change the opacity of the star overlay. This way it can be partially camera input, and partially app generated sky, or it can be 100% generated sky for inside viewing. This app also allows for close up inspection of 3D models, so the user can spin and rotate any of the objects visible in the sky, or if they prefer they could walk around the selected object in AR. It also allows the user to inspect the depth of the stars that make up our constellations, so it not only displays the shape of each constellation but it depicts them in full 3D to spin or walk around, allowing the user to experience just how far each star is from the rest of the group.

Audience

This app is a great resource for any star watching enthusiast, as it not only provides the location of each star and satellite, it also has a massive amount of information on each object that it depicts. For satellites their launch date who launched it etc. For stars, their name, when they were discovered, who discovered them and so on. The app will also give the user notifications for spatial events that are going to happen, giving the user easy access to information about abnormalities that they don’t want to miss.

Pros

Night Sky does a great job of creating a beautiful atmosphere, and allows for mild customization of its display. If the initial display of all the stars and satellites proves too cluttered it can be simplified to just constellations, planets, and satellites, or just constellations. The app also provides relaxing star gazing music, to create a more enjoyable experience, of course it can also be turned off.

Cons

The user interface, while for the most part works beautifully, takes a bit of time to learn how to navigate. When first entering the app navigation can be done by using the smartphone as a lens. Look to the left, the sky pans with the movement. The screen can also be swiped to look around. However after using a swipe motion, looking around no longer works as a control option, unless the view is reset, by hitting one of the icons on the side of the screen. This in itself is not that big of a deal but when trying to get information on an object by tapping it, the majority of the time it is read as a swipe motion and it takes several attempts to get the information on the desired object. But aside from a little difficult navigation this app works beautifully.

Arias of expansion

With the development of simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) this app could develop amazing AR experiences that allow the user to remove just the ceiling in their environment, allowing them to view the night sky as if the roof of their house did not exist. Or they could create a portal for their user to gain access to the galaxy. With the new lidar sensors that are being placed in new smart devices the user will be able to move with 6 degrees of freedom with accurate AR overlays, meaning they could walk through, or just peek through, the portal and see the stars on the other side. And to exit the experience they could walk back out. There are endless possibilities for the new generation of devices.