Google's SkyMap: A Virtual Viewfinder For The Stars

Google just closed out today’s Searchology event with an incredibly impressive application called SkyMap, made for Android phones. The application is launching today on Android Marketplace, and is definitely a must-have.

At first glance, the application seems like a basic interactive starmap. You can flick through space, looking at your favorite stars and including overlays of constellations. But the application also houses far more impressive functionality. By tapping into the phone’s compass and accelerometer, SkyMap can serve as a virtual viewfinder for space – just point the phone in any direction in the sky, and the application will tell you which stars you’re looking at.

If there’s a specific constellation you’re looking for you can search through the application’s database, and SkyMap will help you find it in the sky, using an intuitive arrow system to tell you which direction to turn. When you get close, a circle will a appear on the screen surrounding the stars that make up the constellation. It’s really a stargazer’s dream come true.

Perhaps even more exciting: this is just a taste of what’s to come from our mobile devices. Phones are quickly becoming far more than communication tools – they’re becoming tools that streamline and enhance our lives. And now they can tell what we’re looking at in the real world, serving up contextually relevant information in real time.