Google Sky Map & the fun of stargazing

Google just released beta of Google Sky Map on the Android platform. The app uses the Android-powered device’s built-in compass, GPS, and clock to display an annotated Sky Map of the area it is facing. And since it is using technology to simulate stargazing you can actually see stars during day time. In my opinion this app will put planetarium in your hand. I loved the concept and wasted no time in tweeting about it.

Looking at different videos of this app made me very nostalgic about stargazing. When I was a kid my grandfather took me to our terrace almost every alternate night and taught me stargazing. He explained me about different stars, their positions, their relative distance to planet earth and their properties. He also used books to explain different phenomenas and answer all my stupid queries. He took me to planetariums and explained how the solar system works. Our home telescope fascinated me and he took great pains in showing a very large telescope at the university. Years passed – he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and I got busy with school – so our stargazing reduced but we did talk about it once in a while. And one day it all ended – he passed away. It did create a vacuum in my life for a short time but the education system and distractions of teenage made me move on. Stargazing disappeared from my life. And today exactly 20 years later I saw this app and all the memories of good times with my grandfather came back.

I suspect very few people engage in stargazing today as I have not heard anyone from my social circle talk about it. Add to that is a problem of pollution and skies over our cities in asia are not conducive to stargazing. Sometimes we can’t even see sun or moon properly. Also ambient light on our skylines in making it impossible for people to see stars at night. Very sad indeed but like every other problem in the world Google has a solution for this as well. Do stargazing on Android phones. I think it is high time we individually thought about losing sight of beautiful star patterns and do our bit to reduce pollution.

For me personally I’m going to go back to stargazing whenever I get a clear night.