A Galaxy of Suns // The App
In addition to the spectacular performance, A Galaxy of Suns is also a smart phone app that ‘plays’ the stars as they rise and set over 360˚ of the horizon – for any location on Earth.
Using the same technology as the performance, the app is a collaboration across contemporary art, music, astronomy and design, working with the native potentials of smart device technology to create a unique experience of the cosmos accessible to audiences wherever they find themselves in the world.
The app pinpoints your location and provides a real-time audio-visual interpretation of the stars as the rise and set above you.
On the main page is a button that allows you to turn star data on or off. This text displays information about each star as it rises or sets over the horizon. The information displayed is the following:
· The star’s name (common name or catalogue number)
· The constellation within which it appears
· It’s apparent magnitude
· The distance from Earth
· Whether or not it’s visible with the naked eye
· Whether the star is rising or setting
Within the app you can make a number of adjustments, including:
The default settings ‘listen’ to 180 degrees of the horizon, with panning accurate to the direction your phone is facing. When using the device compass you can scan the horizon using your phone and it will automatically play stars that are rising/setting for that portion of the sky. Manual settings allow you to set the app compass precisely to a chosen direction, listening to only rising stars for example, or due north/south.
By adjusting the range you can expand or reduce the 'listening' angle, tuning in more precisely to different areas of the sky to create a more peaceful composition, or expanding the range for more activity.
Also adjustable is the maximum apparent magnitude ( brightness) of the stars being listened to. Stars with a magnitude below 8 are classified as being visible to the naked human eye under dark sky conditions, with stars above magnitude 8 only visible with the use of visual aids, such as binoculars (allowing visibility up to magnitude 10) or optical telescopes (extending to magnitude 25). The Hubble Space Telescope can detect stars up to magnitude 31.
The maximum distance of the stars can also be set within the app, allowing you to listen to only those stars that are relatively close, or extending to stars in the farthest reaches of the galaxy.
Turn on background play if you wish to continue listening to the app whilst doing other things on your phone. There is a pause button on the main menu to stop the composition.
A Galaxy of Suns supports iOS 8.0 and above, and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above.
Once downloaded A Galaxy of Suns does not require network access function, however having Wi-Fi turned on will improve location accuracy. In the event that A Galaxy of Suns can’t find a GPS signal, it will play the previous location logged by your phone.
Headphone use is recommended when listening to the app.
Image credit: Silversalt Photography