10 free iPhone apps for spectacular stargazing

Variety of iPhones app let you watch everything from the moon to Mars and beyond

There's a lot to watch in the nighttime sky -- everything from the International Space Station and meteor showers to planets and stars. There are tons of iPhone apps that can help everyone who has a little (or a lot) of astronomer blood in them watch the sky with more authority. Here we take a look at a few of the free apps that can help you out.

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1. The night sky changes more frequently than you might realize.  But with his app, that can change. Transient Events tracks how galaxy brightness can vary and show comets as the move across the sky. The app lets users set the types of events it will download from the Skyalert database, which pulls in up-to-date data from a variety of telescopes. 

2. Space Images from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will let you see all manner of space images.  JPL says its Space Images iPhone app hosts hundreds of images taken by spacecraft studying Mars, Saturn, our solar system and beyond. Find it by typing "JPL Space Images" into the App Store search bar.

3. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is also behind Go StarGaze, an iPhone app that connects you to astronomy clubs and their stargazing events.  According to JPL, users can search for events in their current location or find out what's happening across the United States.

4. NASA's 3D Sun lets users spin the sphere by flicking it and zoom in by pinching the screen. Real-time images used to construct the three-dimensional sphere are beamed to Earth by the Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), a pair of spacecraft with a combined view of 87% of the solar surface.

5. Go for a ride on the Moon with NASA's virtual Lunar Electric Rover. The app shows a photo gallery and information about the futuristic concept-vehicle. The game lets users pilot the moon buggy and support the activities of a functioning Lunar Outpost, NASA states.  

6. iSky Gaze:  The app lets users find out when and where their favorite solar system objects will be viewable from their location. It provides information on rise/set times, current location in the sky and viewing tips.

7. The NASA app lets you track all things NASA from upcoming missions to the latest satellite images.

8. Soho Viewer is an application that lets users download the latest images taken by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

9. The LookUp app will tell users when to look up for satellites in the night sky. According to the Orbiting Frog company the app covers pretty much anywhere in the world and predicts transits for the International Space Station, Hubble, Envisat, and Genesis 1 and 2.  

10. Want to know what's happening on Mars? The Phoenix Mars Mission app will give you a Mars weather report.  Users can also grab iPhone images of Mars taken from NASA's Mars Odyssey satellite.  

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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