Review of AstroAlign iOS App
Posted: 6 June 2014
The developer provided me with a redeem code for AstroAlign, available on the iTunes App Store for $2.99. I had previously worked with version 1.0 of the app, but delayed this review until a bug I reported was fixed. The bug was quickly corrected and a feature request I made was added in v1.01.
The app is used to help you select and identify alignment stars for Meade AutoStar handcontrollers. You can use the app when the alignment stars selected by the AutoStar are hidden by clouds or other obstructions. You can also use the app to see where in the sky the AutoStar-selected stars are located. The app is simple to use but effective. I tested the app on an iPhone 5s running iOS 7.1.1.
When you open the app you see a screen like this (I have saved my observatory location):
You can edit the current location to save your location with a name (as I did) and enter and save new locations.
The screen shows the current date/time and Daylight Saving status. You then select what AutoStar alignment mode to use (Easy, Two Star, or Three Star), as seen above and below:
You can select an alignment star using a scrolling list:
Once you have selected your alignment stars, you select the same stars on the AutoStar handcontroller.
If you are unsure where the selected alignment stars are in the sky, AstroAlign can show you. Here are the selected stars:
Tap "Sky" and a star chart will appear showing the sky for your location and date/time with the selected stars identified by name. You can pinch to zoom in and drag the displayed area.
If there are obstructions along your horizon, you can edit the horizon display in AstroAlign by selecting your location, tapping "Edit", and dragging the blue dots to change the position of the horizon along several points:
To save your dark adaptation, tap "Night Mode" at the bottom of the screen:
I had no problems using v1.01. If you are new to using Meade telescopes with the AutoStar (or AudioStar) handcontrollers, or if you are still learning your way around the night sky, AstroAlign will be a useful app to have. As someone who has provided support to AutoStar users for the past 15 years, I can honestly say that using the best alignment stars will provide the best alignment of your telescope, and subsequently the best GOTOs. The AutoStar does not always select the best stars to use, even if the stars are visible, so let AstroAlign select the stars to use and you will enjoy your night at the telescope.
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