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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

Technology

With astronomy websites and smartphone apps, sky is the limit!
Gagandeep Singh Sapra, Hindustan Times
November 12, 2013
First Published: 00:28 IST(12/11/2013)
Last Updated: 01:40 IST(12/11/2013)

Has India’s Mars mission fired your desire to reach for the stars? We help you quench your space thirst.

                             

So, within weeks of the Hollywood blockbuster Gravity hitting the screens, we had an Indian rocket shooting off to Mars. Space is now a hot field to explore.

If you want more details and official updates from the Indian Space Research Organisation, check out their website

PSLV-C25 rocket carrying the Mars Orbiter blasting off at Sriharikota on October 31. (AFP Photo)

But then, that would be news and information. For the thrilling feeling of exploring the great beyond and finding the mysteries of the universe, there are some other ways.

You can feel like a space explorer — minus the heavy suit, of course — by tracking Websites, using astronomy toys and downloading smartphone apps.

This helps you forget the forget the earth, at least for a while, and peer into the vastness that gives you the goose bumps.

Sungazer

Sungazer has an amazing set of pictures of the Sun taken from the Sungazer Observatory built by Greg Piepol. You can also see the construction stages and the equipment used and be inspired to maybe capture your own images, but it is interesting to see how the Sun Flares up as it sends us those bursts of light that sustain us.

Seti

Are their aliens on Mars – or other planets? We do not quite know yet, but the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (Seti) is tracking them out there. Seti has its roots in scientists who started looking for extra-terrestrial life way back in 1959, and their work is now expanding thanks to donations it receives from eager enthusiasts.

You can become a Seti Star by donating to them, or just enjoy its resources including a weekly podcast that talks about various issues from meteorites to flying saucers and Martians.

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Sky View

There is still time before the Mangalyaan reaches Mars, and finding extra-terrestrial life may take a few more years, but the easiest access to space is right here.

Get on to the roof of your building and look at the open sky and look for stars, planets and constellations.

Earlier you did it with a compass, a telescope and sky charts. Now you can simply replace them with smartphone apps.

Sky View in case you are on an iPhone, and Sky Map if you are on an Android Phone are popular apps — and both are free! Start the app and point it towards the sky, and you are all set.

The gizmo will now tell you what planets, stars and constellations you are looking at. The fun part with the apps is that you can use them indoors as well, but the real deal is outdoors.


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