Review: Cosmic Watch

By Dave Owen, Feb 2018

Summary: This is not a skymap, it's an app that demonstrates the relationship between our measurement of time and the positions of celestial objects. It's an engaging way to look at this relationship and I recommend Cosmic Watch for all astronomers and space enthusiasts.

Links

Cosmic Watch

Review

Cosmic Watch is an unusual app. When I first installed it I had to spend a bit of time figuring out what I was supposed to use it for. However once I started getting the feel for it I could see that it would be a great addition to my app collection, if only because it provides a different and interesting way of viewing the cosmos.

This not a skymap app so if you're looking for a way to find and identify celestial bodies, this isn't quite the right tool. Cosmic Watch is all about time, the cycles of Earth and the Solar System. You can use it as a clock or calendar, or you can explore how the Earth and Solar System change over time.

If there's one thing that stands out about this app, it's the design. The graphics are beautiful. It's probably the most visually striking astronomy app on my phone. I use it on a Galaxy S7 — I haven't yet tried it on a tablet but I imagine it's gorgeous.

The app has several modes including timekeeping, astronomy and astrology.

The timekeeping mode is a very cool world clock with a unique way of showing times around the Earth.

In astronomy mode you can see the positions and movements of celestial objects as seen from Earth. This is similar to the common planetarium-style skymap apps but presented in a different way. You could use it as a skymap but it's really more for looking at the celestial sphere in different ways. You can also select the Solar System mode instead of just being centered on Earth.

"Astrology mode" may sound like an odd thing to include in an astronomy app but it is useful to see the zodiac constellations laid out around the ecliptic. Apparently you can see astral (natal) charts but I couldn't find them — it's possible you don't get them on the Android phone version. Whether or not you care about astral charts is your call.

I really like this app. It's a creative way to show astronomical concepts and I think budding astronomers could greatly benefit from spending time with it. You may, like me, find it a little confusing at first ("What exactly am I supposed to do with this?") but there are some helpful resources on the product website (see links above and videos below). Note that the website documentation appears to have been written by someone who is not a native English speaker — it has a lot of typos and grammatical errors but the meaning is generally clear enough.

At the time of writing there is no free version available but it's not too expensive. Give it a try.

Videos

Cosmic Watch Tutorial: Getting started in astronomy mode.
Cosmic Watch Tutorial: Sky motion.
Cosmic Watch Tutorial: World clock.

 

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