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Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy

By John Kennedy

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Note: Interested in beta testing the next version? Contact me with your email address :-)

"The app works beautifully, making astronomy a bit less mysterious—but no less remarkable", MacWorld

"It’s truly an impressive marvel. 5 Mice out of 5", MacWorld.

" of the prettiest and easiest to use. And at three bucks, it’s a steal", Cult of Mac.

Apple App Store Staff Favorite

Voted Best Educational iPhone Application by AppAdvice

Have you ever looked up at the night sky, and wondered what exactly you were looking at? Pocket Universe is an easy-to-use app that will help you learn the names of constellations, bright stars, planets and more. You can literally hold up your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in front of you, and the app will use the built-in compass to display the same view of the sky you see - but one that's complete with names and information.

Then explore the Solar System, and take virtual walks on the surface of the Moon and Mars, before playing a game to help you learn more about astronomy that you thought possible.

Every night there is something to see: Pocket Universe will provide you a list of suggestions, as well as give you regularly updated news and observation tips - which you can even share with your friends.

You don’t need to be an expert to use Pocket Universe, and everything you see has a useful pop-up information window and links to Wikipedia for the latest information.

With over 80,000 stars, beautiful textures, built-in quiz games, updated news, lunar phases, information on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, an Orrery view, and more, there’s so much to explore.

For support or to ask a question, feel free to send a direct message on Twitter to @CraicDesign or email

Key Features

Pocket Universe was the first iPhone astronomy app to support the built-in compass, and it was also the first to add a true augmented reality view using the iPhone's built-in camera! Use the camera view in the evening or morning sky to overlay the labelled view over the real sky.

Simply hold up your iPhone in front of you, and the view will be exactly what you see - but with names and information at your fingertips. Move the iPhone around to see the view change in real-time. As previous iPhone models and the iPod Touch do not have a compass, the up/down movement is automatic, but you will need to drag the display left/right yourself. Note: If the compass doesn't align, press and hold on the compass button WHILE ALSO moving the device around. This procedure will be improved in the next update.

Easy-to-use astronomy application, which focuses on helping you answer the question "What's that in the sky?"
• Works on all iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices running iOS 5 (iOS 7 recommended)
• Tracks the International Space Station, and predicts sightings
• Special "Show Me" mode will guide you to named stars, planets, constellations as well as the brightest galaxies and nebulae.
• "Tonight's Sky" and "Objects and Events" will keep you up-to-date, and give you suggestions for what to look for when you head outside.
• Constellation and Star Quiz to help you learn your way around the sky.
• Works in Northern Hemisphere and ‘Down Under’ too.
• Links to Wikipedia articles for the latest information.
• Responsive customer support, frequent updates.

Please note: Network access is only required to view supplementary web-based news and Wikipedia text. This app never transmits data from your device.

Note: iOS 7.x is recommended.

Note: Non-English localizations focus on solar system objects and constellation names.

Note: If you are looking for an app that can control telescopes, search for SkyQ from Celestron, which is based on Pocket Universe.

What's New in Version 5.4.1

Day 47

It rains, how it rains! I’ve not seen the sky for three months now. I’m worried that it no longer exists, and the grey clouds that press and flatten us will continue until the end of time. What is the Sun? What is the Moon? I can no longer recall. Is this living?

Day 50

Today it stopped raining for half an hour, but only so that it could hail. Then the rain restarted. Seattle is a place of no seasons, only rain that is sometimes cold and sometimes very cold.

Day 55

My last umbrella has broken. I don’t know how I’m going to cope now. I am afraid, so very afraid. The constant drip, drip, drip of rain on my head is pushing me to the very limits of my sanity.

Day 57

I dreamt of the stars last night. Tiny points of light, in the cold, clear sky. At first I thought they were taunting me, mocking, laughing at me. Then I realized they were guiding me, trying to help. They moved and danced and made shapes in the sky. When I awoke in the morning, I had the clear phrase “go to the app store” in my mind.

I looked, and there it was: Pocket Universe. Soon, in my hands, I had the sky. Clear, and beautiful, with the Sun blinding me, and Moon calming me.. and those blessed stars, helping me! My tiny friends. My only friends.

I wept, I wept tears of joy. The sky is back!


This version contains:

* Bug fixes, and resolves an issue which prevented Motion Tracking working on some devices.

* New split-screen mode for Stereo viewing with suitable hardware.

If you like Pocket Universe, please consider giving it a rating or a review on the App Store.

Not only does a nice review mean that my ego can heal from the typical reviews one tends to see (This app didn’t cure my premature balding! 1 star! This app didn’t make me feel less of a failure! No stars! This app didn’t make me as attractive I was led to believe! -1 stars), but it means other people are more likely to buy the app. If more people buy it, I’ve more incentive to continue supporting it. That said, I’ve been working on this app in one form or another since 1999 and so I’m not likely to stop now, curse you!


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Customer Reviews

Phenomenal tool, a Star-gazer must

I can't rage on long enough about this app. Awesome integration using a smartphone to the max to solve an intriguing but common problem ("dad, what is that star over there?"). I've always been interested in astronomy but could only wind up finding the north star 50% of the time. This blows away $20M planetariums - seriously. Burn those dopey plastic domes with scratchy black dots over a 5 watt bulb, making dad look like a moron on drugs pointing at ceiling specs. This is the gold standard. It should be required for every astronomy student starting in 3rd grade. (I teach elementary science, and my 3-7th graders love it!) the ability to hold your phone up to the sky and orient for you where everything is makes astronomy come alive. My students got very stoked when they found Betelgeuse on a cold Feb nite - they actually could see it blink red, once they were assured they were looking at the right star. And the notices for when comets are to appear - genius! Tracking the ISS ... it's all waaaay cool!

Wonderful Astronomy App

I have used Pocket Universe for a few years now and after trying others I find this is the one I come back to. I just like the way it is put together with added features like news for the month and for the day . Suggestions as to what objects deserve some observation and other useful suggestions for beginner to long time user. All the apps these days do a good job of being hand held planetariums but I just feel puniverse goes that little bit farther and better. Thanks for the App .

There is a sky above the clouds :)

Thank you, very much for the passion you put in this app. We, that live in cloudy places, can finally enjoy some stars in the cozy our home place.
I have been using this app for a long time and did not experience any fall back. (I read some very negative reviews and I really did not have any trouble. Lucky me :D )
I recommend it for all star passionate people, and for people that just want to see a full bright sky through the awful cloudy places up North, or even big illuminated cities.

Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy
View In iTunes
This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad
  • $2.99
  • Category: Education
  • Updated:
  • Version: 5.4.1
  • Size: 75.1 MB
  • Languages: English, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Swedish
  • Seller:

Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.1.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

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