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If you wish to learn how to use the iPhone star app: Starwalk, you may already have a good understanding of what it is capable of doing. You may also be new to the idea of the iPhone app called Starwalk. Starwalk is a very intuitive iPhone app that will be your complete and total guide and information source to the sky, stars and constellation all from the palm of your hand.
Starwalk is much more than just an iPhone app that enables you to view constellations. Starwalk is one of the best iPhone star apps because it teaches you about the constellations and stars. Starwalk contains a database of around 8000 stars which are beautifully displayed over an elegant background. Starwalk is an iPhone app which does a wonderful job at educating you about the stars while using a rich user interface and sound effects.
Using Starwalk can seem like a challenge at first since Star Walk is one of the more complicated astronomy apps for the iPhone. However, after reading this guide and tinkering with Starwalk for some time you should be able to get the hang of it.
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Upon launching Starwalk for the iPhone, you will be presented with the all too familiar dialog asking for permission to use your location. Select yes to allow Starwalk to determine your location and display more accurate information.
Starwalk operates using the standard touch interface. Drag your finger to the left and the right to see a virtual 3D representation of the sky around you. As you pass over the constellations you will notice they become highlighted. Tap a particular point in the sky or a star to select it. A green crosshair will appear over the selected point.
Tap the icon in the upper-left corner of the screen which looks like an "i" inside a circle. Tapping this icon will bring up more information regarding the selected target as well as a zoomed-in image. Information will be on the left hand side and includes important details such as name, visual magnitude and RA. When more information is available on the particular target a "w" inside a circle will be visible at the bottom of the information dialog. Tapping the web information icon will launch the Safari web browser and display additional information.
Tap the clock in the upper right corner to change the time. Changing the displayed time will change the star map accordingly and provide accurate information about the star and constellation position at that particular time on the selected date. Slide your finger downward to activate the automatic time-forward affect which will quickly display the time changes in succession. Tap a specific hour to stop the automatic change effect. The current time and date being displayed will appear in the upper middle of the screen on the status bar.
Choose the magnifying glass in the bottom left corner of the screen to initiate a search. Once selected, a search window will present itself with a list of stars and constellations in alphabetical order. Scroll through the list and tap a specific constellation or star to select it. Otherwise begin typing a name in the search bar to initiate a search. Results will be displayed below the search bar. Tap a particular result to display it on the star map. Once displayed on the star map, the result will be automatically highlighted. Tap the information icon to display information. Searches can be conducted by "Stars", "Constellations", "Solar System" or "Messier". Tap the correct choice to display a list and search for that option.
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Tap the icon in the bottom right corner to open the utilities menu. Select the GPS icon (crosshair) to launch the location menu. Starwalk will automatically display your location and nearby cities. Tap a particular city to change to that location or search for a location using the search bar at the top. Tap the GPS location icon in the upper right to have Starwalk automatically determine your location again. Press done in the upper left corner when you are finished. Users of the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 will notice that the digital compass is used to display more accurate information regarding their current view of the sky.
Choose the wrench icon to open the settings menu. The Starwalk settings menu is similar to most other iPhone apps and it will allow you to modify several settings. Enabling "Night Mode" will turn the screen red and make it more visible under low light conditions. Disabling and enabling constellations is self-explanatory. Sounds can also be activated and deactivated from the settings menu. The final option under the settings menu is brightness which can be adjusted using the slider. Press the "X" in the upper left corner of the dialog window to exit the settings screen.
The final option in the utilities menu is the bookmarks listed. Represented by an icon that looks like an open book, tapping it will launch the bookmarks window. The bookmarks menu will contain one default bookmark which is Apollo 11. Tapping a bookmark will display it on the sky map and allow you to view more information about it by tapping the information icon from the star map. Tap the "+" icon in the upper right corner to add a new bookmark. Enter the name of the bookmark and the position will automatically be filled in as your currently selected position on the star map. Press Send to save the bookmark to your iPhone. Press Delete to cancel the current bookmark and discard any changes.
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Starwalk is one of the best star apps for the iPhone. This guide covers the basic operations of Starwalk and some of the more advanced options such as settings and bookmarks.
Starwalk can be downloaded using iTunes (here).
Screenshots taken using Star Walk on the iPhone. Courtesy of Vito Technology, Inc.