Today, W. M. Keck Observatory launched a new smartphone app to stoke the curiosity and wonder of astronomy. KeckWatch [iTunes] offers mankind’s collected knowledge of the cosmos on the screen of your iOS device.
In addition to being able to easily identify stars and planets with both conventional and Hawaiian names, it offers a unique glimpse through the gigantic eyes of the Keck I and Keck II telescopes, the two largest and most scientifically productive telescope on Earth. The app was built by First Light Design, the makers of category-defining app Distant Suns, and can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store today.
“Our work studying the cosmos these past two decades has led to remarkable understandings of our Universe and has placed Hawaii as the premiere location on Earth for astronomical research,” said Hilton Lewis, director of Keck Observatory. “This kind of scientific curiosity has always been a part of Hawai’i’s cultural heritage, from the ancient celestial navigators to today. This app has been carefully designed to be fun and easy to use while offering a wealth of knowledge to everyone that uses it.”
KeckWatch has been built using the engine of the popular award-winning astronomy app Distant Suns, and provides users with a handheld-planetarium, allowing them to turn their phone in any direction to see the stars and planets in their current positions, day or night. By altering the preferences in the app, users can explore the common names of these interest points, the constellations they are a part of, their role in zodiacal figures, their historical names, and even their Hawaiian star names. Other features can help users explore meteor showers and solar systems.
The app will also show users when the mighty Keck Observatory telescopes are on sky and in use by astronomers, as well as where the telescopes are being aimed in the sky at any instant.
To download the app, search for KeckWatch in the iTunes App Store. The app, which was made available in the app store for a soft launch on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, is free to download and does not require registration for use.
The W. M. Keck Observatory operates the largest, most scientifically productive telescopes on Earth. The two, 10-meter optical/infrared telescopes near the summit of Maunakea on the Island of Hawaii feature a suite of advanced instruments including imagers, multi-object spectrographs, high-resolution spectrographs, integral-field spectrographs and world-leading laser guide star adaptive optics systems.
Keck Observatory is a private 501(c) 3 non-profit organization and a scientific partnership of the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA.