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Here's how to bring the majesty and mystery of space to your phone



This is Ode To …, a weekly column where we share the stuff we are really into the hopes that you'll be really into it, too.


Space is vast – infinite, even – and mysterious and mesmerizing. And guess what? It's never been easier to bring all the amazing things about space right to your phone.

This may seem a bit counterintuitive. After all, space is never-ending, and your phone is, comparatively speaking, quite small. But current phone screens are like mini-HD TVs, and the breadth of WiFi and signal coverage means you can enjoy space from your phone almost anywhere.

Be it via Twitter accounts, livestreams, or apps, there's an abundance of space riches to enjoy on the go. Think of it like your little, personal mission control. If you're not taking advantage, you're missing out. Here's how you can experience all that space has to offer you on your mobile device.

An expanding Twitterverse

Space Twitter can be almost as overwhelming as space itself, but curating a list of accounts makes it easy to handle and navigate.

The best place to start is with the many (dozens of, actually) NASA accounts, from the official account to those of astronauts. They'll give you an overarching view of what's happening at America's space agency.

Some NASA accounts are associated with actual missions. You'll find everything from the majesty of photos posted on the Cassini mission account (RIP) to the current discoveries posted on the Mars Curiosity Rover account to all that Curiosity's new red planet neighbor, InSight, has to share.

Do not sleep on tons of other space accounts, from the European Space Agency to the International Space Station, all of which share discoveries, images, videos, and more. They are all available in one single app.

Whichever accounts you follow, be sure to add the Hubble app for high-res images from the most famous telescope in history.

Apps across the universe

As with the Twitter accounts, there are too many space-related apps to count. I've narrowed it down to three of my personal favorites, with a few other alternatives. Be sure to explore your app store of choice, though, for even more options.

Star Chart

Viewing the universe through the Star Chart app

Viewing the universe through the Star Chart app

While the Star Chart has not been updated in many years, it still serves as one of my favorite constellation apps, using geolocation and augmented reality (AR) to let you know exactly what you're looking at when you wake up the the stars.

Point your phone at an object in the sky – star, or constellation – to learn what you're looking at, and then tap that object for information. Boom, science!

If you're looking for other sky-watching apps with similar features, consider Night Sky or SkyView.

ISS Spotter

All your Space Station spotting options

All your Space Station spotting options

Fun fact: Did you know that a few times a year, you can look up and watch the International Space Station (zoom across the sky)? The ISS Spotter app will help you plot when and where the ISS will be in viewing range.

The ISS spotter shows you where the ISS is currently on the list of upcoming appearances, complete with star-ratings so you can make sure you get the best view. Other features include alarm settings so you can miss the spot in the sky where the ISS will appear. It even includes how high up in the sky you need to look.

If there is a website, where you can enter your address and generate email alerts for upcoming chances to spot the ISS as it twinkles down on you from above.

The NASA App

This is pretty much a no-brainer. It brings everything you love about NASA's presence on the web into one handy dandy app. Live streams, photos, a complete list of Twitter accounts, ISS tracking, and the latest news are all at your fingertips.

Streaming space anywhere

I've written before about the ability to stream just about any sport from anywhere thanks to streaming apps and subscriptions. You can do the same thing with NASA. And unlike streaming sports, you can stream NASA TV for free. Besides the aforementioned NASA App, you can find it on video services, like YouTube, across the internet.

NASA also provides a feed of cameras from the ISS to view. They're not always live, but when they are, you can find them on NASA's YouTube page or UStream.

There are also plenty of archived videos to enjoy.

It's wonderful, glorious, and very accessible, all the information and beauty of space just a few taps away.

These views are – wait for it this world (sorry not sorry) and well worth the effort of everything up on your phone. And with the latest successful landing on Mars, There's even more great space content to come.

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