GALAXY within the GALAXY: A cosmos on your S4

Space Images may have the 'John Smith' of astronomy app names, but we're glad that, instead of sitting around coming up with a clever name like 'SkyEye,' NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs team decided to focus their energies on packing this freebie with content. It's full of incredible, vivid photos from all corners of reachable space, all of which look particularly striking on the GALAXY S4's 5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen.

The app boasts snaps of the surface of Mars taken by Curiosity's MAHLI camera and an unbelievable recent shot of the Earth taken from the rings of Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft, 1 billion miles away. The app also showcases images taken of Earth during major events, such as the recent mountain fires in California. It's a stunning free app that serves up interesting content every day. For this reason alone we're glad that, despite recent budget cuts, President Obama is still writing cheques to NASA.

GALAXY S4 space apps

A live wallpaper for your S4 that updates with the phases of the Moon

Moon Phase Pro

69p – Buy it here

Moon Phase Pro is a spectacular live wallpaper app that shows the current phase of the moon in superb and vivid detail ("right down to the shadows in the craters," the developer boasts). Yet it is so much more too.

There's a full Lunar calendar giving you information on the next full moon. If you ever wanted to visit the Dark Side of the Moon, the app allows you to swipe around the 3D simulated model with two fingers. There's also detailed information on moonrise and moonset times, as well as a neat feature that allows you to view the moon at any time from 1900 to 2100.

GALAXY S4 space apps

Caption: An Augmented view of the night sky on your smartphone

Vortex Planetarium

£1.99 – Buy it here

Augmented Reality, ladies and gents. Undoubtedly awesome and particularly useful when it comes to astronomy apps. Just open Vortex Planetarium and point it towards the darkness above.

The app automatically opens the camera on your GALAXY S4 and instead of a visualisation of the sky you'll see the real deal, complete with detailed annotations naming the stars, constellations and planets (there are 200,000 items in total to find) within the lens' wide field of vision.

There's also an awesome time-slider at the bottom of the screen that allows you to travel back and forwards in time, while the weather forecast feature lets you mark clear nights perfect for stargazing. While some of these apps can be information heavy, Vortex combines great design and a simple interface to take its place as one of our favourite apps in the sector.

GALAXY S4 space apps

A no-frills star-gazing app for your GALAXY S4

The Night Sky

99p – Buy it here

Some of the apps featured within this round-up are perfect for serious or budding astronomers looking to augment their hobby, while others are just really cool to play around with when you're standing outside in the dark with nothing to do. The Night Sky falls into the latter category.

Just hold your smartphone up to the sky to show the stars, planets, constellations and satellites within its line of sight. Like other apps with this functionality, it works by combining the GALAXY S4's GPS signal with the device's built-in compass, so can turn around 360 degrees and see what's to the north, south, east or west. You can also use the neat 'Share My Sky option' to share what you're seeing to Facebook and Twitter. If you're that way inclined.

GALAXY S4 space apps

Those carbon monoxide concentrations don't make pleasant reading


Free – Get it here

We've spent so much time looking outwards lately, we almost forgot that it's also possible to view our own world from a unique, extra-terrestrial perspective. Thanks to the satellites positioned above the earth, this app presents a wealth of vital states for our little, insignificant dot in the cosmos, including colour coded Air Temperature, Gravity Field, Sea Level, and Ozone indicators and as well as those nasty Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide concentrations.

There are also handy keys for each state and their respective measurement units (ppm = parts per million, etc). Earth Now is another great-looking free app from the Jet Propulsion unit at NASA. And, if you're wondering why there's a disproportionate amount of apps from the Agency? Well, you want good apps, right? (Sorry, but we're not sorry).

GALAXY S4 space apps

Stunning detail, great gameplay and hours of missions to complete

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD

Free – Get it here

After all of this app-based astronomical education, you've earned a little playtime, and we'd heartily recommend GoF2 from Fishlabs. This detailed sci-fi shooter and strategy game sees you take on the role of the first scouser in space (ignoring Dave Lister), Kevin T Maxwell, and embark on a ten-hour plus campaign mode, shooting down some fellow space inhabitants, while bartering with others.

As well as the engrossing gameplay, there's an awesome level of detail and graphical prowess, enhanced by your GALAXY S4's 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED screen, 2GB RAM, Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU, and powerful Quad-Core 1.9GHz Snapdragon 800 processor. Once you've completed the story mode there are additional storylines you can purchase in-app to keep the adventures going.