A press release landed in my inbox this morning from the folks at Starmap letting me know about the new Starmap Media functionality they've added to their products. As somebody who'd never used (or even heard of) it, I felt I need to have a closer look and ran into an immediate problem: It's for iPad and iPhone only. I'm an Android guy. Looks like I'll have to wait for the next chance to launch into product reviews.
That hiccup aside, it sounds like a good tool to help with your observing. The app gives you star charts, observing lists, and telescope pointers, meaning that it doesn't only plan your evening and identify objects, it'll even take control of your goto mount to move your telescope to the next target on your list. But these have all been standard features and are not news. What they wanted me to know about was the new addition: Starmap Media, which has been embedded as a feature in the paid version of Starmap, and is also packaged as a standalone free app. It provides an audiovisual element to the existing functionality, telling the stories behind whatever object you're looking at through images and narration. It ships with stories on 30 objects, for a total of seven hours of content, and extra stories can be bought at $0.99 a pop.
As their press agent puts it: 'Five years ago, the original Starmap app gave users an easy way to explore the sky using their iPhones. Yet, Starmap’s developer Frédéric Descamps always had more in mind for his app, which expanded to include three versions. “I always want to add more data, more information about celestial objects,” he said. “I also wanted it to have a storytelling element,” he said. “I set out to create illustrated and narrated stories to help users find and learn about sky objects." '
Starmaps and Starmaps Media are available in the iTunes store