So you want to be an astronaut?
Tap to discover the apps real spacewalkers use to explore the sky.
Lots of apps help us pretend to be astronauts, but which apps do astronauts use when they’re pretending to be normal, Earth-bound humans? We asked two former spacemen about the apps they’d recommend to amateur stargazers.
Chosen by: Three-time spacewalker David Wolf, who spent 128 days aboard Russian space station Mir.
What it does: Serves as your personal stargazer, identifying stars, constellations and celestial bodies – day or night.
Why he loves it: I like thinking of our Earth as a spacecraft and our nighttime sky as its viewport. Sky View allows me to look at the motion of Earth and other planetary bodies as though we’re all navigating through the heavens on Spacecraft Earth.
Just as on the International Space Station (ISS) or Space Shuttle, I feel at ease checking each night that our trajectory is correct and no major unanticipated disturbances have occurred. Space habits are hard to break – navigating Earth using SkyView puts me right back in the ship.
Explore the Universe
Chosen by: Clayton Anderson, who spent 152 days on board the International Space Station.
What it does: Tracks the (surprisingly fast!) orbit of the International Space Station.
Why he loves it: With Pass Finder and just a rudimentary (and easy-to-gain) understanding of azimuth, elevation and direction, anyone can spot the International Space Station.
The app also provides the magnitude – or brightness – of the ISS, allowing helpful comparisons to other bright objects in the sky: planets like Venus and Mars, and stars like Sirius, Betelgeuse and the North Star. It gives you the start and stop times for the pass, and even lets you set a five-minute reminder, so you’ll never miss a pass. Check it out and keep looking up – I always did!