Hawaii Geek Beat: Space Apps

Space, the final frontier, was the theme of this week’s appearance on Hawaii News Now, chosen in honor of UC Berkeley astrophysicist Alex Filippenko. Filippenko, who is known worldwide for his scientific achievements as well as his efforts to bring astrophysics to the masses, will be our guest on Bytemarks Cafe tomorrow afternoon, and is the featured speaker this Saturday in the Explorers of the Universe lecture series organized by the UH Institute for Astronomy.

For our TV friends, we featured three space apps:

Exoplanet AppExoplanet [App Store] by Hanno Rein, astrophysicist at Princeton University. The app is a beautiful, interactive guide to over 1,700 planets and counting, plus rich details on planets and moons in our own solar system. The app lets you zoom way, way out from Earth to the farthest reaches of the cosmos. You can get push notifications of new exoplanet discoveries, and even link the app to your Philips Hue light bulbs to change the color of the light in your room to match that of the atmosphere of a distant planet.

StarWalk [App Store, Google Play Store], a perennial favorite that combines astronomy with consumer technology in an irresistible way. The “augmented stargazing” app helps you spot over 200,000 stars, planets, constellations and satellites in the night sky. StarWalk won an Apple Design Award in 2010, was named among the Best of 2012 in the App Store in 2012, and continues to be one of the most compelling space apps out there.

SatelliteSelfies, an app concept entered in the 2014 NASA International Space Apps Challenge. It’s a simple game that presents a satellite image and asks you to guess where on Earth it is, and it is the brainchild of Kailua High School graduate George Uno (now living on the Mainland). He entered it in NASA’s “Where On Earth” challenge, and public voting just closed yesterday. SatelliteSelfies made the final cut, and now just two apps are left in the running for the Global People’s Choice award.

Want to explore the cosmos in greater depth? Tune in to HPR2 89.3FM (or streaming live via the web and mobile apps) at 5 p.m. HST to hear our conversation with Alex, and get a preview of his Saturday talk, “The Big Bang Theory, Inflation, and the Multiverse: An English Major’s Introduction to the Birth and Early Evolution of the Universe.”

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