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Quick Look Review
Starwalk 1.5 Gains Features, Usability
Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 4:00 PM - by John Martellaro
Starwalk for iPhone and iPod touch is a miniature planetarium in your hand that can guide you through the night sky. Have you ever wondered what that bright object is in the evening sky? Or seen a vaguely familiar constellation and can't quite remember the name? Starwalk 1.5, with its added features and usability, is a great companion for the casual observer of the heavens.
Here is a list of the improved and new features in version 1.5
The first version left just a little to be desired and whetted one's appetite for a version with more customization. Version 1.5 provides that, especially with its control over the cutoff for the magnitude of stars. The first version, reviewed previously, tended to overwhelm the user with all the stars one might be able to see on a perfect night in New Mexico. However, most casual users are subjected to some air and light pollution that limits the viewing of faint stars. So version 1.5 can be tuned to more accurately reflect the visible sky from any location.
This new version also fixes a limitation in version 1.1 -- which only showed selected constellation art. Now, every constellation, when brought to the center, shows not only the astronomical stick figures but also the mythical art. That feature can be turned off in this version along with sound effects.
Th addition of bookmarks allows the user to remember a position in the sky and a time. One way to use this is to pick out various constellations prior to observing, bookmark them, and step through the bookmarks of regions of interest in the evening. Version 1.1 introduced night mode -- the display is shown in red light only to preserve the user's night vision.
One thing that Starwalk still doesn't do is display a grid of Right Ascension and Declination. However, if you want to know the R.A. and Dec. of a specific place, just touch the screen and then click on the small (i) info button the top left corner. That said, I can see how the developer may want to avoid additional clutter on a small display.
Starwalk 1.5 from Vito Technologies is priced at $4.99 and requires iPhone/iPod touch OS v2.1 or later. The upgrade to v1.5 is free. Starwalk is an official International Year of Astronomy 2009 product.
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