SkySafari 6 Pro is an excellent and extensive stargazing app for those looking to dive deeper into astronomy, providing in-depth audio tours and a vast amount of information where you can learn about the history, mythology, and science of the universe in a few clicks.
It is easy to set up and use on your smartphone or tablet which makes it ideal for stargazers who like to travel with minimal equipment - just point your gadget up at the night sky and the app will identify constellations. It features options to browse through several object descriptions, astronomical photographs, and NASA spacecraft images. The educational aspect is the app’s distinguishing feature, as it provides high-resolution telescopic images and informative content making it an ideal guide to the night sky, even when it’s partially obscured. The only challenge for those looking for a relatively simple stargazing experience is navigating through the app, as its multiple settings make it feel like walking through a maze. Despite this, we rank it as the best stargazing app (opens in new tab) currently available, thanks to its extensive suite of features.
SkySafari 6 Pro review: Functionality
Like a lot of stargazing apps, Sky Safari 6 Pro allows you to quickly identify constellations and other space objects simply by pointing your smartphone or tablet at the night sky. What sets the app apart, though, are its multiple features that allow you to plan out your whole evening of stargazing.
Under the search icon, you will find a history of your previous search and a feature titled ‘Tonight’s Best’ - one of our favorite features. This displays a list of the astronomical elements that can be spotted with or without a telescope on any particular evening. There’s also another feature called ‘Tonight at a Glance’, which is useful for those who need a quick round-up of what to look out for in the sky. The latter feature includes information on planetary rises and sets and location details for the Hubble Telescope and the ISS.
SkySafari 6 Pro has an excellent inbuilt feature for those who do not own a telescope and for complete beginners in astronomy. You can connect to the Scope on the app and choose any star, planet, or aspect of the sky for the telescope to align on and it will lock this and enable a zoom feature that is magnificently detailed. You will have to disconnect the telescope before using other features such as the Orbit Mode. As the telescope feature is included in the app, you have a choice between this digital telescope or choosing to connect the app to your own telescope (opens in new tab) or binoculars (opens in new tab).
SkySafari 6 Pro review: Design
SkySafar 6 Pro has various navigation tools available, such as the ‘selection’ tool, which allows you to scroll to any part of the sky via your screen and open up some ‘object info’. This tool also allows you to ‘orbit’ objects, so you can view an impressive 3D image of them and see where they are located in space - in our opinion, this clever little animation gives the app an edge over competitors, whose graphics can be a bit lackluster. There’s a neat ‘measure from’ feature too, so you can calculate the difference between objects. All of your observations can be added to your own observation list, so you can easily return to your favorites and view them again throughout the year.
There’s also an extensive list of all the planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and everything else you might be able to see from your current location. Once you have selected what you would like to view, you can then click on ‘center’ which then provides details of your selection such as latitude, longitude, altitude, and description of the object.
SkySafari 6 Pro review: Additional features
SkySafari 6 Pro counts a number of fun additional features.
You can play around with basic time and date settings, but you can also input different coordinates, time formats, and display options to change up what you’re viewing through the app, and even check out different horizon panoramas. The choices on this latter option range from Mouna Kea in Hawaii’s Big Island to Australia’s Uluru. Users are encouraged to save an image of the sky from their own backyard and upload this, so people can get an idea of how the night sky looks all over the world.
Viewing the solar system also comes with interesting options, as the app allows you to toggle on satellite names and asteroids. You can also magnify planets and moons according to brightness and size.
Apart from creating your own personalized observation list, you can also choose to sync the app with telescopes (opens in new tab), cameras, eyepieces, and binoculars (opens in new tab). You can create a planner within the app, which helps you to keep track of what you would like to view in your stargazing sessions. There is also an impressive moving sky feature within the Time tab, where you see which direction the Earth is currently moving to assist with your observation session.
SkySafari 6 Pro review: Cost
SkySafari 6 Pro can be downloaded through the app store on iOS and Android and costs $39.99. As a bonus, to follow the Apollo 11 lunar missions, it is an additional $2.99. There are also the following add-ons available to be purchased:
Should you buy SkySafari 6 Pro?
In comparison to some of its competitors, SkySafari 6 Pro stands out as it combines various features all into one app, making it comprehensive for those keen on not just stargazing but also viewing and learning about over 100,000 stars, star clusters, galaxies, planets, moons, various asteroids, comets, and satellites. You can go back in time to look at a visual representation of how the sky appeared in the past. Connecting with the telescope proved to be a great feature, especially when the weather has been unpredictable and we still wanted to see what was out there in the sky that night.
SkySafari 6 Pro can also simulate the night sky, animating meteor showers, comets, transits, conjunctions, and other celestial events, so it’s a great educational tool. It also provides better control of magnitude limits - for example, you may prefer not to include stars on the app that you can’t see with your naked eye. This is also ideal for those looking forward to the upcoming key meteor showers such as the Leonids in November, Geminids in December, and the Quadrantids in January. Our only real complaint here is the price, as the app’s pro version costs $39.99.