20 July 2019

    Lauren Goldman

    Explore space with these apps, series and more

    Indulge your love of all things celestial as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of man’s first moon landing.

    On 20 July 1969 Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon in Apollo 11. As scientists are still working on making space travel available to us all, for now, you’ll have to make do with exploring the skies from Planet Earth. Here’s how to do that.

    Top apps for space lovers


    This app uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to provide an immersive experience. You can use it to find and identify passing satellites. The satellites are organised into categories (such as Communication, Navigation or Scientific) and are updated automatically. There are four viewing options: Sky View displays the night sky where you are, Orbit View shows a 3D-rendered model of Earth, Satellite Views allows you to travel with selected satellites, and Ground View displays a top-down view.


    Download Orbitrack for iPhone

    Orbitrack is currently available for iOS only (at R79.99). But look out for it in the Google Play Store this year!

    Star Walk 2

    This stargazing app provides a map of the sky through the screen of your device. It uses your phone’s GPS to provide a real-time look at the stars, planets, comets, satellites and more where you are. It also has an AR mode, offers information about the night sky, and allows you to fast-forward in time to reveal celestial bodies expected to make an appearance in your area later that day.


    Download Star Walk 2

    Star Walk 2 is available in the iTunes Store and Google Play Store for free, but if you prefer your astral experience to not be interrupted by adverts, you’ll have to pay (R49.99 for iOS and R50.99 for Android).


    The US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a comprehensive app that covers just about everything astronomical. It lets you know when interesting sightings are going to happen, displays 2D maps and 3D Earth models, has a TV channel and, even, an alternative rock radio station!


    Download the NASA app

    The NASA app is available in the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store for free.

    Best Instagram accounts about space


    The ultimate mission of SpaceX (founded by South African Elon Musk) is to enable humans to live on other planets. You can follow their progress on Instagram, where they showcase their awe-inspiring spacecraft.

    Follow Space X on Instagram
    Falcon 9 launched Dragon into its targeted orbit in 2018, marking SpaceX’s 20th launch last year. 

    International Space Station (ISS)

    The ISS’s Instagram account gives you a fascinating look at what goes into space travel. Shots include stunning views of Earth, fun scientific experiments and astronauts going about their daily business doing things like servicing robotic assistants.

    Follow the ISS on Instagram
    Expedition 60 Flight Engineer Christina Koch of NASA playfully demonstrates how fluids behave in the weightless environment of microgravity aboard the International Space Station.

    Tim Peake

    This British astronaut shares moments from the six months he spent in space as well as what he’s up to now, back on Earth. Highlights include picturesque sunrises (one post says they saw 16 every day!), magical auroras and groundbreaking research being conducted in space.

    Follow Tim Peake on Instagram
    Tim caught a lightning strike on the horizon while he was looking across the Mediterranean.

    Must-watch space documentaries

    Earth from Space

    Ever wondered what our planet looks like from way up above? Oscar-winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor uses cutting-edge technology to capture phenomena like the Northern Lights and track mysterious animals.


    Watch Earth from Space

    Watch Earth from Space on DStv Now

    Astronauts: Toughest Job in the Universe

    Ask almost every kid (and some adults, too!) what job they want to do one day and 'astronaut’ is more than likely on the list. But what does it take to become one of the most enviable humans in the universe? Find out as 12 people go through astronaut candidate evaluations.


    Watch Astronauts: Toughest Job in the World

    Watch Astronauts: Toughest Job in the Universe on Showmax

    Enjoy endless entertainment on Showmax, DStv Now and more with a Vodacom Video Ticket. Get yours now.

    Header photo by NASA on Unsplash

    Lauren Goldman