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Archive for the ‘star walk for ipad’ tag

July 5th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Unplugged (except for the sky apps)

I was fortunate to spend the past week on Cape Cod with my family, both immediate and extended. We had fabulous weather and some spectacular beach days. It was so great to get in that vacation mode and unplug.

Getting out from behind the laptop and phone is very liberating. It does take a couple of days to get used to leaving the phone behind and stop checking email. But doing that and instead spending time with loved ones is a great way to get back in touch with the offline world. Goodbye technology, hello sand, surf and sun. It was nice.

One of the greatest things about the Cape is the night sky. With no city lights the sheer number of visible stars is awe inspiring. Problem is, beyond the dippers and Orion’s belt, I can’t identify much of what I see. Horses? Hercules? Fish? Not seeing it. So I did turn to technology to assist me here. There’s a couple of different apps I tried out to help me decipher the constellations.

First I tried a free app for my Android called Google Sky Map. Holding the phone up to the sky, my son and I were able to match the patterns on the screen with what we were seeing above. It was great. At last, I could make out Hercules from a seemingly random grouping of stars.

Then I tried another app, this time on my ipad. It’s called Star Walk ($4.99 for ipad, 2.99 for iphone). It has great graphics and is really nice with the bigger screen. Whichever you choose though, it’s an excellent way to really appreciate the heavens. And it’s a lot of fun. I recommend laying down if you can. Your neck gets a little tired from looking up.

What was most fun though, was being on the beach and having time to just be. Gazing out at the ocean, catching sight of a whale, flying a kite, watching horseshoe crabs scurry about in the lagoon (made me wonder if the inventors of the Roomba got their inspiration from watching them), and just being with my family was such a welcome respite.

And as I stood at the edge of the ocean and my feet sank into the sand with every incoming wave, I couldn’t help but think that there’s no app for this. And that, my friends, is a very good thing.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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