Cosmic Watch app review
Telling the time with added celestial features
- Looks good
- Many features
- Not cheap
- Enthusiasts may expect more details
It's overkill for a simple global clock but it's fun to play with and offers a different perspective to Google Sky. Astronomers might not find all the data they'd expect, though.
Mobile phones have done much to cull casual watch wearing. But this Swiss startup felt that those who rely on their phones to tell the time could use something a bit more elaborate.
The Cosmic Watch app opens by showing you the time plus a live visualisation of The Earth as viewed from above your location on it. You can also save up to three locations (which you can find either by dragging, pinching and zooming the globe or entering text in a search box) for quick reference.
But that’s only the basic function of the Cosmic Watch. As the developers put it, you get to watch the sky from the outside rather than the inside.
It’s a bit reminiscent of an interactive version of an airline route map – you can see day and night around the world but can interact with the globe by spinning it and zooming in and out. You can also set the clock to any time in the past or future and examine how the world sits (or will sit or sat) in space at a certain point in time. The clock can also be run super-fast so that you can see movement on a geological time scale running at up to one year per second.
You can add planets of the solar system to the mix along with constellations and astrological data. Drop lines can track them along with the sun and the moon. Notes, such as solar eclipse warnings, also pop-up when appropriate.
There’s a lot of information available but it’s not all easy to identify on a small iPhone screen. It’s worth noting that objects like the ISS and comets are not listed.
While it’s nice to play with, at $6 it's very much a premium app and it’s overkill for people who just want a world clock. Google Sky is the obvious competitor (and it's free) but that's more of a live feed while Cosmic Watch presents more of an easily-adjustable overview. However, people with an enthusiast-level interest in space and who like tracking Earth’s interaction with constellations, the Solar System and other celestial bodies would do well checking it out at cosmic-watch.com. It's available both on iOS and Android.
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