Tech special: Reach for the stars with these gadgets
From listening to astronauts talking in space to capturing the changing sky in a video, we tell you about a few devices that will help you experience the magic of space
Life in space has always intrigued us. Whether it is traditional sciences of astrology and astronomy, which involve the study of celestial objects, the astronomer Galileo, James T Kirk or the present day International Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the quest for discovering what’s unknown will never wither away. From the comfort of your bedroom or out in the open, we tell you about a few devices that will bring you closer to the stars.
Your Own Mission Control
Ever wondered what it really feels like to be at the centre of all the action — listening to astronauts out in space, looking at their duty rosters and the Flight Director Console Display? Log on to http://spacestationlive. nasa.gov/timeline/ and you have live access to the video and audio feed from International Space Station. You can watch the Crew Timeline Overviews and also watch live videos of the crew performing the tasks assigned to them. If you have an Apple TV or a Chromecast setup with your television, you can relay this web page on it, and it will feel like running Mission Control at NASA, with only one exception — you can watch but not control. You can even set up an alert by signing on with your email id at http://spotthestation. nasa.gov and it will send you an email every time the International Space Station is visible in the sky.
Star Walk 2 (iOS, Rs 190)
If you are the kind who would want to go out in the open and figure out the stars, the old method required you to sit with a telescope and a sky chart, figure out the directions and see where the stars or the galaxies are. However, an application called Star Walk changed the scenario years ago. At that time, it was called one of the best sky gazing apps, till Star Walk 2 came along. Star Walk 2 runs only on iOS, so with your iPhone or better yet, an iPad, head to the roof or the beach side, fire up the application and point your device to the sky. It will tell you the object/star/galaxy you are looking at, and for more information, you could always go to the in-app purchase section. It will give you information starting from what your camera sees to a time machine function that lets you explore the map of the night sky from the years gone by. So, if you are wondering if a planet you see is Venus or Pluto, don’t worry. Just point your phone in the direction and see.
Celestron Next Star 130 SLT Telescope (Rs 43,899)
Though the aforementioned devices give you an insight into the world of stars, at the end of the day, it’s virtual. What better than watching the stars, planets and other objects up close? For this purpose, a telescope does the trick. Celestron has a range of a few telescopes starting at as little as R3000, and the Next Star 130 SLT is a great scope to possess. Yes it is expensive, but it comes with an in-built computer and a motorised stand, wherein you can punch in one of the 4,000 odd objects it stores in its memory and the telescope will point to that. It has a 130 mm reflector that gathers 30 per cent more light than its previous version and if you please, you can buy a SkyQ Link 2 WiFi module that helps you connect your telescope with your tablet, letting you control all of this wirelessly and enabling you to see the real celestial object. The Sky Portal app that comes as a bundle also lets you know what is the best object to view depending on the date and your location. So get out there to enjoy an evening under the stars.
GoPro Black Hero 4 Black Edition (Rs 31,000 approx)
Star gazing is a tedious practice but if you love it then what better way to capture those stars flying across the sky than by making a video. Yes, you can do all this with your favourite DSLR, a timer remote and some patience, but the easiest way is to get yourself a GoPro Hero 4 Black edition. Many outdoor enthusiasts use it to record their adventures and now you can use it to record movement in the sky. The Hero 4 Black edition comes with a in-built Night Lapse Photo Interval, wherein it shoots the sky using wide angle lens at specific intervals and exposure time of anywhere between 15 seconds to 60 minutes. If you want a pan in your video, mount it on a kitchen timer and leave this outside for a while. You will have a brilliant movie of how the sky changed through the night. You can even download it to your PC and upload it on YouTube and share it with the world. Remember December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the longest night and the shortest day — what better night to be out there than this one to gaze at what lies above and beyond.
Did you know?
As there is no air or wind on the moon, if you ever stepped on its surface, your footprints would remain there forever