The Best Astronomy Apps? An Expert Weighs In.

Douglas Arion, Ph.D., is a professor of physics and astronomy and the director of the Carthage Institute of Astronomy at Carthage College. He also runs the astronomy outreach program that is based at AMC's Highland Center and operates at AMC lodges and huts.

Earlier this month, after reading my recent AMC Outdoors article on outdoor apps, Professor Arion passed on his personal recommendations for the best astronomy skywatching apps. Here are his top picks.

"SkySafari is the creme de la creme of sky programs," Arion says. Available for both iOS and Android devices, the basic version is a steal at $2.99 and—with 46,000 stars and 220 of the best-known star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies (among other things)—seems more than sufficient for most amateur sky gazers. Plus ($14.99) and Pro versions ($39.99) are also available for more serious night sky enthusiasts.

Google Sky Map
As of this writing, 275,539 users have reviewed this free open-source app from Google. The take of the masses? 4.7 out of 5 stars. Hard to go wrong with this app, unless you have an Apple device (Android only).

Also free (and Android only), this app caters more towards telescope users who understand the meaning of features like "strap the phone onto the OTA and you get a PUSHTO guide!"

**Apple users can consider Star Chart (free) or Star Walk ($2.99), which are both iOS only.

 “Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.