Application Name: Clear Sky Droid
Description: Shows sky clarity and astronomical viewing conditions for nearby areas.
Publisher’s website: Zero Credibility
Cost: Free; $0.99 donation version.
Version/date reviewed: v.1.1.6 / 11-4-10
Phone/OS: Droid X / Android 2.2
If you’re an astronomer interested in whether telescope viewing conditions will be good, a photographer interested in upcoming light conditions, or you just want to know if the skies will be clear for good stargazing, Clear Sky Droid offers an easy way to get this info. The app is a front-end interface to the ClearDarkSky website, where it retrieves the data it displays.
Figure 1: When you first start up the app, it gets your location from GPS or network data, and shows you a list of monitored locations in your general area, listed by distance from you. You can also search for a specific location, or consult a list of saved favorite locations. Tap on any of the items in the list, and you’ll get the option of adding it to your favorites, showing it on a map, or getting fuller details …
Figure 2: This is a forecast for the next day or two of what conditions will be like for astronomical viewing. A more detailed description is available here, but basically the top grouping describes the critical factors for good sky conditions, and the darker the square the better the conditions are expected to be.
- Cloud Cover: How much of the sky is obscured by clouds.
- Transparency: How clear the sky is; usually reflects the humidity.
- Seeing: How stable is the atmosphere. Most important if you want to view using a telescope. In poor seeing conditions, the stars will be twinkling a lot as seen by naked eye, but you can still get some decent stargazing in. However, in a telescope, the sky will be jumping around so much that you’ll barely be able to make out any details in faint objects, or fine detail in bright objects like the Moon and planets.
- Darkness: Usually bad when the sun is up :), but also affected by the moon’s phase and location, and scattering in the atmosphere.
Other Issues: None – no problems.
Final thoughts: Indispensable for the serious amateur astronomer, or the recreational skygazer. For the rest, probably won’t see regular use, but might come in handy on the occasional outdoor trip.