Friday, September 26, 2008


The iPod Touch continues to amaze - it is just the coolest thing ever. I really enjoy the wide range of apps that are available for it, from simple things I use frequently like the NYTimes Reader and eReader apps to goofy things like a Star Wars light saber emulator (the accelerometer gets all sorts of odd uses). And did you know the iPod can play music too?

Most of these apps are free or very cheap, but one of the best ones so far costs $12 and is easily worth more. Starmap is a pocket planetarium similar in many ways to Stellarium for Windows and Macs. It creates real-time star maps including planetary positions and much more. It makes wonderful use of the touch interface for zooming and panning, and can even use the accelerometer to rotate and scroll the screen as you move the iPod to align the display with the stars you can see. Graphical rendering and scrolling speed have apparently been greatly improved from earlier versions (it's quite smooth). There's a huge database of astronomical objects, all stored locally (no internet connection is needed).

Starmap is developed by Frédéric Descamps, a French astrophysicist. It's great. I can't wait for a night clear enough to really try it out (it's supposed to rain all weekend here in New England). His web site has Flash-based demos, FAQ, and some tutorials.

No comments: