Perseid Meteor Shower: Four Apps That Can Enhance Your Viewing Experience

On Sunday night and into Monday morning, people around the globe will be able to see up to 70 meteors an hour during the dazzling Perseid meteor shower.

The meteors can be seen with the naked eye. But these apps will help make the moment even better.

SkyView

SkyView is an app for both Android and iOS devices that enables users to simply point their phone at the sky and find out the identities of the stars, constellations, planets, and satellites that are above them. Created by Terminal Eleven, SkyView has made the top app lists of The New York Times and TechCrunch, according to its website.

The app comes with a night mode, which allows users to switch between red and green filters, and turn lights off on their phone completely.

“When stargazing or satellite spotting for an extended period in completely dark conditions, any bright light can reduce your night vision,” the website explains. “Using a red or green filter helps preserve your sight.”

On Sunday night or Monday morning, SkyView can help you find out what the meteors are passing as they shoot across the sky. The application costs $1.99 and can be downloaded from the Apple app store for iPhone users and from Google Play for Android users.

Sky Guide

In 2014, Sky Guide won the design award from Apple. It identifies celestial objects overhead and reminds users when a sky event is happening. Along with identifying what you’re looking at, Sky Guide draws pictures to provide context -- a scorpion for the constellation Scorpio, and a fish for the constellation Pisces, for example.

Sky Guide also plays music as you gaze at the night sky, although this is a feature that can be turned off if the user decides silence is preferable. Users are able to adjust the brightness of the screen to better match the color of the real night sky they’re observing.

Want to see what’s going on below the horizon? Just point the phone downward and the app will let you know where the sun or moon is located when it isn’t in the sky.  

The app is only available for iOS users and can be purchased from the Apple app store for  $2.99.

Four apps to download before the perseid meteor shower A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above desert pine trees on August 13, 2015, in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area in Nevada. Four mobile apps - SkyView, Sky Guide, Scope Nights and Sky Safari - help users find great stargazing locations and identify celestial objects. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Scope Nights

While the Perseid meteor shower can largely be viewed from anywhere, the darker the viewing venue the better. Cue Scope Nights, which gives users the opportunity to find clear, dark skies in their area. Available for the iPad, iPhone, and even the iPod touch, users are able to manage favorite locations, conduct a global search, and find certified dark sky locations.

Along with finding a location, Scope Nights provides stargazing forecasts complete with the temperature, cloud percentage, and ratings for the day ranging from poor to good. It’s available for download from the Apple app store for $4.99.   

SkySafari

Along with being able to identify stars and other celestial bodies, SkySafari can be used to remotely control a telescope to point anywhere in the sky. 

SkyFi, an adapter exclusive to SkySafari, can pair with almost any Go-To telescope with a standard USB or RS-232 serial interface, according to the website. It’s about the size of an iPhone and attaches to the telescope’s mount or tripod. The app communicates with the telescope over a wireless connection that enables the user to control the telescope remotely.

There are multiple options for iOS users when it comes to SkySafari and it’s largely dependent on what you really want the app to accomplish. If you’re just looking to identify objects in the sky, SkySafari 6 could be right for you and is currently available for free in the Apple app store, ordinarily retailing for $2.99. However, if you want to be able to control your telescope as well, it costs $7.99 with the current discount and $14.99 at regular price.

The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year, but this year is predicted to be particularly spectacular because of the corresponding moon phase. As a crescent moon, it will set before the show begins around midnight, making the sky an ideal dark background for the meteors to come dancing across the stage.

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