Augmented reality has changed the way we do a lot of stuff and our way to experience the world. An example of these changings is how we can look at sky and know what are the objects we are looking at.

In my opinion, recognizing the stars and associate them to their proper constellation is not easy because of the huge number of stars, the similarity between them and the changing position of some of them depending on the period of the year.

Now, we can download applications on our smartphone that can help us a lot for what concerns sky observation. A smartphone has a GPS module to track our position and an accelerometer to calculate its inclination and how it’s oriented. Adding to this information the knowledge of the current time, it’s very easy for it to know which stars and planets are captured by the smartphone camera obtaining a good approximation.

Having an Android smartphone, I could choose between StarTracker and SkyView and I downloaded and tried both. They are similar, but I liked SkyView more because gives the user much more information on the stars compared with StarTracker and allows a deeper customization of the experience. One being the possibility to use what is framed by the camera as background for the app that in my opinion makes the experience much more immersive.

The application works well, it builds constellations among the stars and gives the possibility to know more about the stars framed by the camera just tapping them. Added information includes a description of the star and its position in different time of the day in respect to our location.

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                   Moon with description                                            Saturn with description

I think it could be more useful to print description on the planets and stars (e.g. distance from the earth, diameter, mass) near the object as soon as it is framed, in this way it would be easier for the user to catch the information he wants without tapping on the object.

Soon these applications can be brought to smart glasses making the experience more impressive (the portion of the sky framed is not limited to the smartphone screen) and faster (there will be no need to take the smartphone whenever we want to know the name of a star).

Furthermore, similar applications can be created to identify not only stuff in the sky but everything surrounding us. It can be used for example to help tourists visiting cities giving information on monuments and point of interest near them. Moreover, it can be used to identify animals, trees and whatever is considered relevant according to the hobbies and needs of the user.
Remaining on the sky, a similar application can be used to build a map of the airplanes currently fighting above our heads giving information on the flight like the departure and arrival time and location.