Google has announced Sky Map for Android this afternoon enabling T-Mobile G1 and HTC Magic owners to browse outer space by pointing their phone to the sky. Just yesterday we heard that this application was on the way–we thought it was called Star Droid–but it arrived remarkably quickly.
What really makes Sky Map interesting is it makes use of every sensor Android currently supports including GPS, the magnetometer or compass, the accelerometer and the clock. Basically the application will find your earthly position using GPS, but can also find your orientation using the compass and accelerometer. Then if you look at the sky through the phone’s view finder during day or night you’ll see the stars and planets in their respective locations, tagged with their proper names. And, because Sky Map can detect orientation, users can search for an object by name and will be directed to its location in the sky by an arrow.
As I was reading about Sky Map I was astonished to learn that their are only 6, 000 to 9, 000 stars available with the naked eye from Earth. Because its so unlikely that a supernova will occur and a star will die, Sky Map will likely never need to be updated. And because the data needed by the app is so minimal, it only occupies 60k of space.
I’d love to give Sky Map for Android a try but I’ll have to wait for the HTC Magic and HTC Dream to hit Canada next month. In the meantime you can download the free Sky Map for Android from the Android Market. Android star there’s also a Google-produced intro video below.