Discovering Cosmic Discoveries

I’m currently back in Europe for a few weeks over Christmas. Last week I travelled back from Hawai`i via New York and had a 10 hour stop-over in Newark. To pass the time I decided to pop into Manhattan and meet up with a few folk who work in my field at the American Museum of Natural History. There they have research astronomers who also spend part of their time doing outreach activities at the museum. One of them, Emily Rice has been involved in producing a nice little app for the iPhone called Cosmic Discoveries. I had a play about with it on my Dad’s iPod touch (I like my music players to have buttons).

Rose Center Planetarium

The Rose Center Planetarium at AMNH.

It’s main part is a big mosaic which shows Saturn with it’s aurorae (the Northern Lights are an example of this phenomenon on Earth). Zooming in you can see thousands of images of stars, planets, galaxies, fuzzy things, telescopes, famous astronomers and the planetarium at AMNH. Speaking of the planetarium (see right) it’s a huge sphere inside a glass cube. It reminded me of the Technodrome from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Inside it I took in a great planetarium show about stars and their evolution. Each photo also comes with a short bit of information and the ability to comment on it. Additionally there are also a series of more in-depth stories about topics in astronomy. This isn’t an app that will change your life, but if you want something to browse around occasionally (or if you want to distract astronomically curious relatives over Christmas) it’s very nice indeed. The app is available for free from the iTunes store.

If you have a favourite astronomy app (for iPhone, Android or another system) feel free to discuss it in the comments.

PS for people at AMNH, this is mince pie, they rock.


One Comment on “Discovering Cosmic Discoveries”

  1. Emily says:

    Thanks, Niall! Might I add the developers are actively working on new stories. We hope to have over 50 stories in total covering all the major “Cosmic Discoveries” and the scientists and observatories that have made them possible! So look out for those updates.

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