The Star Walk app for iPhone, iPod and iPad combines the age-old wonder of stargazing with the cutting-edge technology of augmented reality.
When you point your device at the sky, the app uses information about where you are (combined with the digital compass and camera if you're using an iPad 2) to display an image of the night sky. The stars above you are highlighted and named, along with constellations, planets and satellites.
Seeing the stars illuminated, and constellations traced and overlaid with astrological signs is a spellbinding experience, helped by the brilliant interface and presentation. Stars twinkle as celestial bodies slowly crawl across the screen, and the Sun even has a lens flare effect.
This app's accessibility is admirable considering its educational capabilities. Clicking on any named star, planet, constellation or satellite and then clicking the 'I' icon brings up its Wikipedia entry.
Although the app works perfectly during daylight hours, for the best results you should use it at dawn or dusk when the stars are just visible.
Although the iPad 2 offers the best experience for this app thanks to its large screen, and built-in digital compass and camera, you can still use the app with less feature-packed devices. You don't even need access to an internet connection, though some features are hampered and you need to enter your location manually.
This is an augmented reality app that goes further than telling you if there is a KFC around the next corner, and demonstrates the full potential of this technology.
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