Redshift is an astronomy tool for your iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, allowing you to “bring the night sky to your desktop” through a “3D-model of the nearby part of our galaxy” (USM) – sounds impressive. As a long time user of Solar Walk and Pocket Universe, I was excited to see another astronomy application hit the App Store. Redshift’s lengthy list of features, which includes everything from 100,000 stars to 10 well-known comets, as well as red-mode, certainly makes it a contender against the aforementioned applications, the former of which I awarded 4 stars for its “impressive amount of workmanship … for [design] alone, it’s worth the price tag.” Let’s see how Redshift compares.
It didn’t take long for my first “wow” moment to occur. Whenever you open the application, it pans through the stars above before entering the earth’s atmosphere, providing you with a ground-up view of the heavens above. Each constellation is marked, named and diagrammed, allowing you to see exactly why each constellation is shaped the way it is, and where it is. Through GPS, Redshift was able to accurately determine my present location and show me the actual view that I saw above.
The design of the in-earth view is smart. To make things a little less dry, Redshift has implemented a number of panoramas (with the option to have none) to provide a backdrop to your viewing. This ranges from City to Fields to Mountains and, my personal favourite, Sea, as well as a number of others. In addition, almost all of the design is user customizable, with options to turn off constellation patterns, images, labels, guides and even an option to change the sky into daylight. An in-built crosshair allows you to accurately go wherever you want to go.
Outside of the Earth is where things get even better. Full access to every planet in the Solar System, a number of dauntingly large stars as well as access to the Deep Sky certainly do not leave Redshift short of information. Amongst all of this, information like type and magnitude, as well as altitude and azimuth, are present. Wikipedia is built right in for further reading also.
Overall, Redshift is very impressive for its content. However, I did find it somewhat difficult to navigate through the solar system and get a feel for the beauty and complexity of the planets rotating on both their axes and around the sun. Unlike Solar Walk, Redshift just doesn’t seem as solid. However, Redshift’s vast array of content, coupled with unique features like red-mode, make it feel more astronomer orientated – like it was built for astronomers to go out into the night (for reference, the colour red allows you to evoke the full night sky without light distraction – perfect for the iPad).
It’s the little features like these, coupled with good build quality, that make the iPad seem that little bit better. Redshift is impressive and content-filled, and that’s exactly what a space application needs.
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