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Plugged In

Explore the universe with space apps

Plugged In

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(Credit: NASA)

By Claudine Zap, Yahoo Buzzlog

Want to know what's happening on the International Space Station? There's an app for
that. There are all kinds of astronomy and space-related guides for Android, the iPhone, and the iPad.

Bing Quock, assistant director of the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences, looks at many astronomy apps on his iPhone, and told Yahoo! by email, "There are many of varying quality, and I've downloaded some that I've since deleted, so it pays to be careful, to really read user reviews, and to know what you really want to get out of the app." Here are some of the top apps.

Space Station Live!

Get an inside glimpse into the International Space Station and misson control over at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, with the Space Station Live! website and ISSLive smartphone app. Internet and smartphone users can use the app to tour the space station and mission control consoles through virtual 3D-view models.

Star Walk

If you have an iPad or iPhone, this app is for you. Star Walk lets you view the night sky through your camera. The 360-degree, touch-control astronomy app uses augmented reality to show stars and constellations that should be visible in the sky at that moment. 

NASA

If you like feeling connected to NASA at all times, download this baby. You'll impress all your friends at cocktail parties (or scare them away) with facts such as the latest launches and countdown clocks, ISS sightings, satellite trackers, and NASA videos.

3D Sun
This is one hot app, literally. It's all about the sun. The tool updates you on the latest solar flares, and then sends 3D images collected through satellites from millions of miles away, right to your smartphone. Quock also recommends the app Total Solar Eclipse by P. Massimino for "forecasting the visibility of solar and lunar eclipses for different areas."

Deluxe Moon

This app is heavier on the astrology than the astronomy. In addition to keeping up with what zodiac sign the moon is in (another showstopper at cocktail parties), you can track the moon with this app. You'll know moon phase, moon age, and the moonrise and moonset times for where you live.

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