A powerful interactive encyclopedia of the solar system
Vito Technologies’ Solar Walk has become one of the rare series of astronomy apps that actually attempt to impress its user base through innovation and improvement. This has never been more true than it is of Vito Technologies’ latest app, Solar Walk 2. Improving on the original in terms of both content and design, this sequel takes the user on yet another guided tour through outer space, but with an ace up its sleeve: full 3D representations of each of the planets of our solar system, a feature that’s noticeably absent from a majority of the astronomy-app competition. Improvements from the original range from upgraded textures of objects to more substantial data sets, superior physics, and even integration of major space missions launched by humanity.
A Great Companion to Star Walk
Solar Walk is effectively Vito Technologies’ sister-app series to Star Walk (from the same developer), and Solar Walk 2 is a wonderfully updated and visually stunning journey through space. The emphasis here – and the clue is in the name, of course – is on our solar system. Solar Walk 2’s content isn’t limited to our local planets by any means, but one must be aware that a majority of the extra items as well as some visual upgrades come in the form of in-app purchases, so be wary of this when starting off with the app.
If you’re looking for a unique selling point (and they’re hard to come by in the saturated astronomy-app market), then, much like its predecessor, Solar Walk 2 has some of the best 3D representations of the local solar system out of any app in existence today. While the original Solar Walk was a bit more of a “feel free to explore the Solar System” experience, things feel a little more structured this time around, and while free exploration is still very much on the cards, a little bit of guidance and instruction from the app itself is very welcome, considering the many millions of miles and indeed light-years comprising the local solar system and the area beyond.
A Mobile Orrery
So what we have in Solar Walk 2 is a 3D, interactive orrery containing a serious quantity of information about the planets and star(s) in and around our solar system. It doesn’t stop there however: the app also accurately displays the position of comets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies in the relevant locations within the solar system.
The interface is a little different from the usual point-and-render, augmented-reality approach of many rival apps. You’re presented with a gorgeous opening sequence that puts the size of the solar system into perspective, before being given full swipe control of the whole solar system. You can zoom in or out, select certain planets or objects, pull up information about them, and even enjoy actual photos of many objects (not as many as in JPL’s Space Images, but a decent quantity nonetheless) that have been taken by various satellites and man-made craft as part of the many space-based missions in human history.
Though a fairly standard feature by today’s standards, Solar Walk 2 lets you see the state of the solar system at any point in time, either past or future. The most fascinating aspect of the app is still the real-time (or sped-up, depending on your preferences) depiction of the motion of the various planets in our solar system. Particularly impressive to watch is the motion of the moon around the earth, however; there are even opportunities to view renderings of eclipses, putting the physics of the phenomena into an immediate visually-pleasing perspective.
Unique to Star Walk 2 is also the ability to pinpoint the main features of four major celestial objects: The Moon, Mars, Venus, and Earth. Whichever one you select, you can zoom in on major points of interest, allowing you to get better acquainted with these selected planets – this is more than a majority of the astronomy apps out there can manage! The moon isn’t covered in quite as much detail as dedicated Moon Maps, for example, but this app is still one step ahead of the competition in this respect.
A Must-Have for Solar-System Enthusiasts
Even if you’re not a huge fan of star-gazing per-se, Star Walk 2 is a must-own for anyone remotely interested in the Solar System. It is one of the most visually spectacular renderings of our solar system in existence today, and that’s before you even consider the app’s content. It goes further than most apps in that you can zoom in closely on planets, view said planets’ details, view photographs and other media regarding selected celestial objects, and also map out the positions of various stars and satellites as well. Its content and gorgeous 3D design makes it an essential app to own, regardless of your level knowledge of the solar system when taking the plunge.