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    Re: Learn the stars, by phone
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 May 22, 09:19 -0700

    Last week, I wrote:
    "For students of celestial navigation and astronomy generally, the pointing 
    information can be used to identify stars, planets, even bright satellites. 
    This sort of application has been available for a few years in expensive 
    stand-alone devices which have sold well in a niche market, but as this basic 
    astronomical data becomes widely available through "smart" mobile phones, 
    there's a potential for significantly greater basic astronomical knowledge 
    among the wider population. I consider this a real opportunity for celestial 
    navigation and astronomy educators. Though most people living in urban and 
    suburban areas have lost the night sky to so-called light pollution, there is 
    still strong interest. In a year or two, when smart phone users of all ages, 
    but especially young people, can point their phones at a star and say, "Oh, 
    that's Vega... and there's Altair...", it may well be revolutionary. Maybe it 
    will inspire some interest in traditional celestial navigation."
    So what sort of applications could we create to achieve this goal? Assuming 
    that phones with pointing capabilities like this are just around the corner 
    (a year or two), what sort of star identification software would help to 
    "inspire" interest in celestial navigation? Of course, we would want 
    something that identifies the standard navigational stars, and perhaps 
    something that discusses their names (e.g. pointing out that names like 
    "Acrux" were coined in the 1940s-50s specifically for navigators). And 
    perhaps we could include a function that calculates the apparent altitude and 
    the computed (true) altitude from the observer's location, maybe showing 
    sample corrections for dip and refraction ...just to get them wondering what 
    those are. Any other ideas?? What would you want in a star-finding 
    educational tool aimed at a pre-celestial navigation market?
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