WinStars 3 – Astronomy - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

I come from the world of fundamental sciences, particularly particle physics. I had the opportunity to work on experiments in the field of dark matter research and very high-energy cosmic rays. Coding is above all a passion and I've been coding for about thirty years now!

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

Its very purpose, which is to reproduce our universe. It's like trying to fit a boat into a bottle, except that the boat is extremely large and complex. Concretely, the program calculates the position and orientation of billions of objects, which implies great efforts concerning its optimization.

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

In the field of astronomical applications, I really like Stellarium for the quality of its graphics. Otherwise, I must shamefully confess that I don't use many applications on my mobile because I don't find it very exciting to use a screen as big as a postage stamp.

So I have a greater admiration for software that runs on more powerful configurations. I'm thinking of Blender, Mathematica, and Photoshop that I use daily.

There are also Visual Studio and Qt development suites.

How long have you been working on this app?

For a very, very long time. The very first line of code of version 3 dates back to 2017.

But there have been many interruptions and it's not my main activity.

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

I wanted to make the most complete software possible, capable of reproducing our universe from the smallest mountains on the Moon to the largest structures identified to this day. I also wanted to talk about science in an original way. But it's still a point to be improved.

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

I am happy to offer as soon as possible the latest data collected by the current international collaborations. For example, I update the data from the GAIA catalog (that's the star catalog used by WinStars) a few days after the data is published in the public domain. It's funny to know that a satellite located at the Lagrange 2 point, at 1.5 million km from the Earth, collects data on the position of stars that ends up a few weeks (months) later in my software.

Moreover, I feel a certain satisfaction to reproduce the relief of the Moon or Mars and thousands of asteroids in all their complexity.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

Add more complexity to the objects I am trying to reproduce. Improve the quality of the graphics. Add more objects and objects to reproduce as accurately as possible universe currently known.

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

WinStars 3 is not well known. It would be nice if users who discover (and appreciate it ) talk about the program around them. Moreover, buying it would allow me to go much further.

Currently, I have to rent two servers to host the 5 GB of data that the program is able to manage. This is quite expensive and clearly costs me more than I get from the license fees. This is currently a problem for the development of the software.

WinStars 3 – Astronomy

About App:

WinStars is a multi-platform 3D planetarium that accurately represents celestial objects at a given moment. It also allows you to travel virtually through our solar system, the Milky Way, and the closest galaxy clusters. Additionally, a dedicated news feed allows you to follow and represent the latest discoveries in astrophysics. WinStars is a constantly evolving software. New features are regularly added to make it a tool dedicated to discovering our Universe. The full version costs 4,99 EUR and gives access to all the features.
It is recommended to consult the documentation available on our website given below.

Main features:

- Visualise the sky as it was 500 years ago or as it will be in 10,000 years!
- Discover the names of the main stars or locate the constellations by moving your mobile. WinStars will help you to identify the objects you are pointing at.
- Are you looking for an object? Just type its name and let the software guide you.
- WinStars gives you access to a lot of information about each object.
- The software includes a huge database of billions of objects.
- Each object has a detailed card that is updated in real-time (distances, right ascension, declination, azimuth, altitude, and magnitude).
- It is possible to track all satellites placed in orbit around the Earth and predict, for example, the times of visibility of the International Space Station (ISS).
- Represents with precision the position of the main satellites of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. All you need to do is zoom in sufficiently on the main planet.
- Also calculates the position of hundreds of thousands of additional objects in our solar system (comets and asteroids).
- Track planetary missions (Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, etc.).
- Indicates the significant astronomical phenomena visible from your observation location.
- Plots the celestial equator, the ecliptic, the azimuthal, and equatorial coordinate grids.
- Represents the orbits of the planets in 3D.
- A night mode allowing you to watch the screen in the dark without being dazzled.
- Easy installation of additional modules.
- Automated software updates.
- Customisable landscapes.
- Available languages: Bulgarian, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish

The free version offers most of the functions available, but the acquisition of a license provides an additional enhancement to the software:

- Add the Gaia EDR3 catalogue containing 1.7 billion stars... up to magnitude 22! (internet connection required).
- Add many deep sky objects (more than 100000 galaxies, nebulae, clusters, pulsars, quasars) - Explore the stars close to our Sun.
- Leave the Milky Way and visit other galaxies. Discover the large-scale structures of our Universe.
- Planetary surfaces rendered in 3D with improved textures. Fly over mountains and lunar craters or walk on the surface of the Earth, Moon, or Mars! Your device must be compatible with OpenGL ES 3.2 or more.
- Many comets and asteroids appear in the software in their true shape.
- Displays the DSS (Digitized Sky Survey) digitized sky in various wavelengths.
- Add interplanetary missions.
- Unlock better textures for landscape, sky background, etc.

Visit our website for more information about the software.

Categories: Education

Date: February 28, 2023

Developer: Franck Richard



App URL in iTunes
App URL in Google Play


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