The long summer nights are a perfect time to head out to do some star gazing. For those whose astronomy knowledge is somewhat lacking, help is at hand, thanks to a helpful virtual reality (VR) app from First Light Design, called Distant Suns VR.
The standard version of Distant Suns has been out for some time, regularly updated by the developers, and one of the earliest solo-programmer apps to hit the Apple App Store. The latest version brings in VR support, so users can immerse themselves in the night sky.
The app features over a quarter-million stars, all constellations, galaxies, nebula, planets and major moons. It can act as a personal tutor to teach individuals or families about the night sky. Utilising the VR functions, users can slip through of gravity to glide over the moon, or watch Saturn eclipsing the sun.
“When I was a kid, every Friday evening I’d be at a local observatory or planetarium. I thought that someday I might have my own planetarium, invite people in, turn out the lights, and turn up the night. Now my dream has become a reality,” said Mike Smithwick, founder and president of First Light Design. “Distant Suns (VR) allows everyone to have their own personal planetarium.”
No internet connection is needed, so users are free to visit remote locations for star-gazing. Users can also save their favourite stellar sights and cloud-sync them with other devices, or track specific objects that you have soon, or would like to find and the ‘What’s Up’ screen gives an overview of the evening’s sky.
In VR mode, users can fly over Saturn’s rings or watch the summer sky rapidly change as the months roll by, or even visit the Moon to see hundreds of named Lunar features as well as the Apollo landing sites.