Maybe you want to look at the Moon. Maybe you’re more interested in planets, or deep sky objects. Regardless of what you want to observe, it’s important that you know what phase the Moon is in.
You can learn to estimate Moon phases manually, but for people who like shortcuts, there are a bunch of free apps that take all the work out of it. These apps do two main things:
1. They’ll tell you everything about the Moon tonight – the phase, the fullness, and what time it rises and sets. If you spontaneously decide to have a stargazing session, you’ll know whether you can look for other stuff or whether it’s worth just focusing on the Moon.
2. They let you skip ahead to different dates to find the phase you want. This is invaluable in planning your sessions, especially if you’re targeting deep sky objects or meteor showers.
There are loads of free ones available on the App Store. I recommend Phases of the Moon Free for Android, and Moon Phase Plus for iOS. These are slightly less aesthetic than some of the other ones, but they offer the most functionality, and are really easy to use.
(Tip: Turn your phone to Flight Mode before using them to avoid being pestered by ads)
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