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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.