Developer: Craic Design
Price: $3.99
Version: 4.1

Design Rating: ★★★★★
Features Rating: ★★★★½
Integration Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★★

The universe is fascinating. There’s no other word for it. We don’t know how big it is, how long it is has been is existence for, whether there is intelligent life or not … and every time we do answer a question, we end up asking at least ten more. It’s a mesmerizing experience – looking up at the night sky and seeing history (light takes time to travel to earth, meaning what you’re seeing is the past rather than the present). But the problem with looking up is that there’s so much to look at. Stars, planets, nebulae, clusters and even galaxies: they’re all visible, but do you know what you’re looking at?

With Pocket Universe HD, you do. The great thing about the universe is that its motion patterns are predictable: we know to a relatively high degree of accuracy where planets and stars are going to be in hundreds of years time. And Pocket Universe HD takes advantage of this predictable universe pattern, allowing you to hold your iPad up to the night sky and figure out exactly what that object you’re seeing is. Looking for something in particular? Search has you covered. The experience is both humbling and exciting.

The virtual sky reveals the shapes and names of constellations, planets, stars, deep sky objects – you can name it all just by holding your iPad up in the direction of where you’re looking. An in-built magnitude feature allows you to accurately conclude that what you’re seeing in the sky is what you’re actually looking at on the iPad, given the object’s brightness. You can even play God by fast forwarding time, seeing where all these objects are going to be at a certain moment in the future.

The ‘Information’ section within Pocket Universe HD makes for equally impressive viewing. View a gallery, see the latest news and read information on Saturn’s moons, Jupter’s moons, the lunar phase (moon brightness) and even see a map of the moon. But by far the most impressive feature is Tonight’s Sky. This gem colludes information to provide a daily Sky Report with all the need to know astronomy info: hours of daylight and darkness; current moon phase; objects visible with the naked eye (eg. Jupiter, The Moon); meteor showers; ephemeris; satellite information and a planet guide. The latter feature provides hourly information on where you can spot certain planets, and remember, if you still can’t find them, the Virtual Sky and Search will have you covered.

It’s hard to find fault with Pocket Universe HD – its only disappointment was the solar system view that feels relatively bare in comparison to its rivals such as Solar Walk, which offers a much more visually appealing view of the solar system and its known information.

Pocket Universe HD is a ‘wow’ application. You don’t just have the whole earth in your hands, but the known universe. And with more information you have even more awe and appreciation of the universe we live in.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Education, Reviews

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