Best Apps For Stargazing Free

Stargazing is a hobby that’s been around for as long as people have been looking up. It’s also one of the oldest and most popular hobbies in the world. There are lots of ways to enjoy stargazing, but one of the most fun is to find an app that helps you locate stars and planets in the sky.

There are lots of apps out there that help you do this, but we’ve narrowed it down to our favorite four: SkyView®, Stellarium, Star Walk 2, and Google Sky Map. Each one has unique features and benefits, so let’s take a look at what makes each one special!

Best stargazing apps for iPhone and iPad | iMore

Best Apps For Stargazing Free

Stargazing apps are brilliant for spotting constellations in the night sky, looking at the planets, identifying stars and learning about astrology. Whether you’re a beginner or a stargazing pro, these user-friendly apps are the ultimate guide to the night sky.

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One of the great things about stargazing apps is that they let you stargaze at home without a telescope or expensive equipment. We might not be able to travel to a designated Dark Sky Reserve, but these apps will help you get the most from stargazing at home.

Take a look at some of the best stargazing apps to download in 2021…

  1. Star Walk 2
    Stargazers will love this easy-to-use app which includes guides to explore the night sky, tips for identifying stars, and information about constellations, planets, satellites, asteroids and comets. It’s perfect for those who want to brush up on their astrology knowledge from the comfort of their own home.


  1. SkyView
    SkyView is the clever app which lets you point your iPhone, iPad, or iPod at the night sky to identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more. It’s had all-round rave reviews, with one user saying: “I love being able to open this app whenever I see a star or constellation that I want to know more about or become familiar with.”


  1. Star Chart
    Looking for an app everyone in your family will love? Star Chart is one of the best educational and augmented reality astronomy apps around, ticking all the boxes. Simply download it onto your phone or tablet and look through the eyes of your device to see a high-tech window into the whole visible universe.


  1. Google Sky
    If you don’t have a phone, a great way to soak up the night sky is to head over to Google Sky. Thanks to team at NASA, you can see just what’s going on above us by dragging your mouse across the page. From stars to the constellations, bring the wonder of the sky into your living room with just one click…


  1. SkySafari
    Using professional telescope astronomy software, SkySafari lets its users revel in the beauty of the creation with just a few clicks. With precise graphics and educational content, it’s ideal for those looking to brush up on their astrology skills.

milky way on the isle of wight

  1. International Space Station
    One of the best of the market, the International Space Station (ISS) app enables you to explore the night sky, as well as figure when and where the International Space Station will fly by your home. Great news for those without a telescope.


  1. Solar Walk
    Presented as a 3D model of our solar system, this brilliant app lets users engage with planets and stars in a whole new way. You’ll discover interesting astronomy facts about planets and stars, satellites, asteroids, comets and other celestial bodies. Great to try if you’re looking for a weekend activity.


  1. SkyWiki
    If you’re intrigued by the night sky but are not sure where to look for all the answers, then SkyWiki is just the app for you. As well as being easy to use, it enables budding astrologers the chance to take a glimpse of the sky as it moves. You’ll also find a calendar with important lunar events, astronomy news, a compass and plenty of astronomy photos.


  1. Night Sky
    Take tours of the night sky with this simple app. With satellite models displayed on Earth View and improved moon colouring, you’ll feel like you’re an astronaut exploring space with clever tips and tricks.


  1. Sky Map
    Use this clever app to help identify stars, planets, nebulae and much more. Whether you’re an eager beginner or a stargazing pro, Star Map can help you discover all you need to know about the night sky.


best stargazing apps to download

  1. SkEye
    Get familiar with the sky by identifying stars, planets, and constellations using SkEye — a planetarium app which can also be used as a PUSHTO guide for telescopes. Use it to discover meteor showers, bright comets and deep sky objects.


  1. Star and Planet Finder
    To use this app, simply choose a planet from the list, move your device according to the pointer display and you’ll be presented with a helpful planet guide. It’s also great for learning more about stars, constellations and satellites in the sky.


  1. Pocket Universe
    This award-winning astronomy app, which features an augmented reality view of the night sky, lets its users learn about moon phases, see ISS sightings, play quizzes and discover all there is to know about the night sky.


  1. Redshift Sky Pro
    This pocket-sized planetarium lets users see what’s going on in the night sky, virtually travel through time and watch how the constellations change. But that’s not all: you can also explore fascinating 3D models of the planets, moons, asteroids, and many deep-sky objects.


  1. NASA
    With over 18,000 images, videos, podcasts, feature stories and a Solar System Exploration feature, the NASA app is perfect for those who are looking to tap into the world of astronomy. Have you tried this one yet?


  1. Star Rover
    Do you love looking up at the stars? Well, then this app is just for you, as it enables users to see the stars, moon, planets, constellations in their proper place from any location. Simply change the sky view in settings and use Quick Find for everything you want to know in the night sky.

One user wrote: “Great app. Works perfect. A fantastic companion to the beautiful night sky!”


  1. Stellarium
    Featuring a catalogue of over 600,000 stars, Stellarium shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you would see using your binoculars or telescope. It’s also great for those without a phone, as its many features can be accessed via a computer browser. Simply click on the link and you’ll find all you need at your fingertips.


  1. Polar Scope Align Pro
    This app is one that’s better for experts, due to its complex nature. According to its description, it “calculates the position of Polaris or σ Octantis in your Polar Scope reticle for your location (using your phone’s GPS or manually), allowing a quick and accurate polar alignment”.


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best apps for stargazing with telescope

We have fully reviewed the best stargazing apps for Android and iOS, and ranked them in order here.

Best stargazing apps: Image shows person holding mobile up to starry night sky
(Image credit: Getty Images)
Jump to:
Best overall
Best for realistic night skies
Best for beginners
Best for learners
Best low cost option
Best for the basics
Best Free App
The best stargazing apps put the cosmos in the palm of your hand, letting you map the galaxies, stars, and planets from almost any location on earth. They’re not just an essential component of any amateur astronomer’s toolkit, but a fantastic entry point for anyone curious to learn more about the universe, and our place in it.

Using a stargazing app can expose you to the wonders of the night sky in a way that is more accessible and more comprehensible than any other source, and can help you develop a deep understanding of the existence of the cosmos that you can carry with you throughout your lifetime while enhancing your interest in astronomy and astrophotography.

You can map and plan from the comfort of your own home or car because the apps use your smartphone’s GPS to locate the constellations and deep space objects from wherever you are. For dedicated astronomers out in the field, however, the best stargazing apps make for an invaluable tool when paired with the best telescopes or best binoculars. Or perhaps you’re planning some astrophotography and have your map sorted but want to know which kit to take, in which case take a look at the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.

Star-charting apps share some things in common – to locate heavenly bodies you simply point your phone at a patch of sky and the app will display the name and information about the object you’re pointing towards – but they vary in complexity, features, presentation and price.

To help you choose the right star map app for your needs, we’ve assembled a collection of the best stargazing apps currently available.

Related: Best photo editing apps for astro
SkySafari 6 Pro

(Image credit: SkySafari)
SkySafari 6 Pro
A clever, well-designed stargazing app with a wide selection of features.
Standard price: $39.99Telescope control: YesFree version available: YesAR star map: YesDatabase: Includes 100 million stars, 3 million galaxies down to 18th magnitude, and 750,000 solar system objects
+Allows you to create a detailed observing list
+Insightful audio tours and pronunciation guides
-Hefty price
-Overwhelming layout
A comprehensive app from the more expensive end of the market, Skysafari 6 Pro is festooned with information about the night sky – you’re almost guaranteed to learn something from it, even if you’re a veteran stargazer steeped in astronomical lore.

That comes at a price, however, and this is an expensive app. It’s $39.99 with IAPs on top, so you have to really want it. Get it installed on your phone and tablet and point it at the night sky, however, and the investment you’ve made makes itself plain: the app can identify constellations, or you can connect it to your telescope and have it guide you around the stars. A great feature is ‘Tonight’s Best’ – a guided tour of the finest sights on show that changes as the year goes on.

We also love the fact that it backs up your settings and provides telescopic images and object information. As an educational tool, SkySafari 6 Pro can be hard to beat, and there are a lot more features that we go into in our review. The only complaint is the price.

Read our full SkySafari 6 Pro review
Download SkyView: Android, iOs

(Image credit: Stellarium/ App Store)
Stellarium Mobile Plus
The most comprehensive celestial database around
Price: $13.99Telescope control: YesFree version available: YesAR star map: YesDatabase: Over 1.69 billion stars, all known planets, natural satellites and comets, minor solar system objects including 10k asteroids and most known deep sky objects, and over 2 million nebulas and galaxies
+Comprehensive database
+Intuitive technology
-Time controls difficult to reset
-Zooming causes image distortion
-Limited information on celestial objects
The mobile version of the well-known open-source desktop app, this is a superb app that’s notable for the quality of its constellation illustrations. Unlike its Windows and Mac counterparts, however, you need to pay for it. Which is fair enough, programmers have to make a living too.

What you get for your money is a database that contains more stars than any other app, but not as many asteroids as Sky Safari. It isn’t as polished as that app either, though the way it pinpoints your position using GPS and displays the sky above you is spot on – so the sky you see displayed on your phone will be fairly similar to the real sky above you. You can locate and label your favorite constellations and planets, and even track satellites as they traverse the sky above, and access lore and stats about the stars and planets you select, including stories from different cultures.

Zoom in, and you can access HD photos of nebulae and galaxies, though some such as the Pleiades could do with an update. Pointing your phone at the sky will reveal the objects you can see, while the app also easily connects to most telescopes. Overall, this is one of the better astronomy apps out there.

Read our full Stellarium Plus review
Download Stellarium: Android, iOs
Star Walk 2

(Image credit: Star Walk/ App Store)
Star Walk 2
An informative guide for viewing the night sky
Price: $2.99Telescope control: NoFree version: YesAR star map: YesDatabase: 200,000 stars, 8 planets, 27 asteroids and comets, and 10,000 satellites
+Easy to set up and navigate
+Customizable, including notification settings
-Cheapest paid version removes ads, other features must be bought
-Some users report calibration issues
Available as paid-for and free versions, the latter displaying ads and lacking features, Star Walk 2 is an augmented reality experience for the night sky, designed to be experienced through the phone screen rather than by connecting to a scope. It’s easy interface makes it well-suited to beginners.

Let the app view the sky through your phone’s camera, and it will overlay constellations in the direction you’re facing. You can also track the movement of planets and, if you pay for the upgrade, objects such as the International space Station and the Starlink satellites. There’s even a calm audio track you can turn off any time you want.

We liked the ‘Visible Tonight’ section that guides you to spectacular objects you can definitely see on a given evening, with photos and a link to its Wikipedia page for more information. Even at its most expensive, Star Walk 2 is a low-cost way to experience augmented astronomy, and the free version is perfectly usable if you can live with its limitations.

Read our full Star Walk 2 review
Download: Android, iOs

(Image credit: SkyView/ App Store)
An excellent app for all abilities and skill levels
Price: $1.99Telescope control: SomeFree version: YesAR star map: YesDatabase: Stars, planets, satellites & constellations (numbers not provided)
+Very easy to use
+Easy access to information
-The augmented reality screen is dark
-The constellation art fades too quickly
This easy to use and low-cost app (there’s a free version) has been around for a long time, but received many upgrades along the way. Its interactive star map recognises night-sky options and constellations, showing their paths when they cross the centre of the screen.

This is where the app falls down slightly – you need to be very precise in your positioning to get the information you need. Move slightly away from the object you’re interested in, and the details vanish – perhaps the designers had a stable tripod mount in mind rather than handheld viewing. We also found the AR screen to be extremely dark, even for viewing at night, but the graphics are clear and the illustrations of constellations are attractive.

When you do have it properly aligned, however, there’s a lot of info on offer, as you can bring up full descriptions, and even link out to the object’s Wikipedia entry for more.

The free version contains the details of fewer stars and constellations than the paid-for app, but doesn’t burden you with ads. You can upgrade by buying packs of extra stars and satellites, and even a music package. Telescope integration is limited, but there’s enough detail and functionality on offer here to make it attractive to amateur astronomers.

Read our full SkyView review
Download: Android, iOs
Star Rover

(Image credit: Star Rover/ App Store)
Star Rover
A decent celestial database on your phone for the price of a small fries
Price: $1.99Telescope Control: NoFree version: NoAR star map: YesDatabase: 120,000 stars, 88 constellations, planets and moons and other sky objects
+One of the more affordable stargazing apps
+Easy to use and navigate the stars
+Fully customizable night sky settings
-Limited database compared to other apps
-Occasional app glitches
A nicely designed app that’s not too expensive, Star Rover is let down slightly by the size of its database, which doesn’t contain as many stars and other objects as its competitors’ do.

This in no way makes Star Rover a poor app, however – 120,000 stars is still plenty, and it contains all the most interesting and brightest ones. It offers similar functionality to other apps, giving an augmented view of the night sky with constellations marked with illustrations, and tracks for the planets and other notable objects. While there’s a search feature that can ferret out any area of the sky you’re interested in looking at, there’s little additional information on offer once you’ve found what you’re looking for.

Due to its basic interface and blurry font, the app is starting to look rather dated, and could do with an update. Despite this, it’s perfectly usable, has a complete moon-phase and eclipse calendar, can show you objects yet to rise above the horizon, and is extremely competitively priced.

Read our full Star Rover review
Download: Android, iOs
Starlight app

(Image credit: Starlight/ App Store)
A great stargazing app for learning the basics
Price: £1.99Telescope control: NoFree version: YesAR star map: YesDatabase: 100,000 stars, 88 constellations, no man made objects
+AR overlay that mirrors the night sky
+Original artwork for constellations
+Some stars have vast amounts of information to read through
-Refers you to Wikipedia for reading on most stars
-Doesn’t contain man-made objects like the ISS
-Too basic for anyone with pre-existing knowledge
A rather basic app that’s not only cheap, but comes with an ad-supported free version, Starlight is deceptively simple.

The app offers an augmented view of the heavens, with plenty of information on offer. Find something interesting, tap the screen twice, and you’ll be immersed in details about it. Unfortunately, if you’re interested in man-made objects such as the International Space Station, you won’t find it here – its database covers natural objects only.

And while it’s possible to zoom in and find dimmer stars that can be obscured by light pollution, there’s not much detail about them here. Stick to the brightest objects in the night sky, and Starlight will fill you in nicely, with links out to Wikipedia to flesh out the facts.

The ads in the free version take up rather a lot of the screen, so if you’re serious about this beginner’s guide to the galaxy, you’ll get a better experience by paying up. It’s only $2/£2, although for that price you could also get one of the above options that we rate slightly better. The main reason to go for this option? It’s limited database means that you’ll just get the basics when you’re stargazing, so you can focus on learning the main stars first.

Read our full Starlight review
Download: Android, iOs
Best Stargazing Apps 2021: SkEye app

(Image credit: SkEye )
A feature-rich stargazing app that’s free
Price: $9.99 (full version)Telescope Control: YesFree Version: YesAR Star Map: NoDatabase: Stars, planets, satellites & constellations (numbers not provided)
+Simple interface
+Highly customizable
+Free without Ads
-Only available for Android phones
-Satellites are only available in paid Pro version
For a stargazing app that offers such a rich, dense resource to observe the night sky with, it’s remarkable that SkEye provides most of its features for free. And while it might not be the most user-friendly of stargazing apps, with little of the visual polish that distinguishes others on this list, the app is still fairly uncluttered and simple to use, once you’ve taken the time to explore it a little.

The basic version of SkEye is available without adverts, while the pro version has the advantage highlighting over 100 satellites, 800 comets, and adds the ability to create a custom catalog for quick access to your favourite objects.

SkEye is a great app for astro-enthusiasts, but novices may find the app a little inscrutable at first, due its fondness for layering advanced metrics and obscure abbreviations over its subjects. If you just need the app to locate a particular object, however, SkEye includes a fantastic search function that gives easy directions to a chosen object.

For enthusiasts though, SkEye is particularly well suited to pairing with a telescope, being compatible with its OTA (optical tube assembly). The app even has a handy “Insta-align” function to make the fiddly process a little easier.

Most stargazers will find everything they need for a rewarding night of observation in SkEye, and the fact that it is free – although sadly unavailable on Apple’s app store – makes it a very attractive app.

Read our full SkEye review
Download: Android
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