A Guide to Winter Stargazing

Using a wireless device to map out the cold December skies.

By on December 19, 2013

The Geminids Meteor Shower, one of the most active annual showers, appeared Dec. 12-13. Even if you didn’t catch this particular event, there is always plenty to see in the cold December skies, and you can use your wireless device to learn about stars, constellations, meteors and more.

The Pocket Universe app is suited for both novice stargazers and professionals alike and includes a searchable database of thousands of space objects, a night vision mode and a digital compass. SkyORB, on the other hand, offers a 3D interface to search and find stars, deep sky objects, current satellites and even shuttle missions.

To see exactly which stars hang overhead, download Star Walk and hold your phone toward the heavens. As you turn, the image spins with you, revealing constellations, planets, comets and satellites in every direction. 

On a cloudy night, you can turn to your smartphone or tablet to learn about the skies. The European Southern Observatory has collected a gallery of images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope for the Hubble Top 100 app. Mobile Observatory, alternatively, comes with interactive views of the solar system and zoomable images of the sky and planets, essentially providing an Astronomy 101 textbook on your device. Use Moon Atlas, a 3D globe that teaches you fun facts, to view the moon from every angle and read through more than 1,800 named features.

Remember that touch-screen devices aren’t as useful with frozen fingers. As you lay out your blankets and lawn chairs to try and catch the universe’s light shows this winter, keep those digits warm in style with products like Etre FIVEPOINT Gloves, which have specially-designed ”contactwoven” fingertips that allow you to use your touch-screen electronic devices.