For thousands of years humans have tried to create tools to explain and predict the celestial events occurring in the heavens. Even 2000 years ago devices were being used that could predict eclipses and the location of planets. Those ancient scientists and engineers would surely be flabbergasted at the incredible astronomy apps we can use today and carry around in our pockets.
Swiss developers Celestial Dynamics Ltd. have created Cosmic-Watch, an app that’s essentially the modern version of the Antikythera mechanism. It’s a real-time, interactive clock in the form of a smartphone app. It does things that a lot of astronomy apps already can: it can tell the time in different parts of the world; it can find the location of planets in the night sky; it can show phases of the moon; it can travel forwards or backwards in time to see positions of planets in the past of future.
Where Cosmic-Watch does things differently is in its presentation. Instead of giving the information as a list of numbers and coordinates, the app uses an intuitive “clock-face” that’s ecliptic and built around a 3D model of the Earth. You can see how the information comes together visually in this video:
Cosmic-Watch is basically what ancient philosopers wanted thousands of years ago but in your pocket. The app is for international time-keeping, astronomy, or even astrology if that’s your thing since you can see when planets are in retrograde.
What’s really great is that you can see all of this information in a fun, entertaining way. Sure, another app could tell you the location of a planet in the night sky but it’s another thing to zoom out and see its interesting orbit around the Sun.