But hey, there's an app for that, of course. Astronomy apps are making it possible for anyone to be astronomer — you don't even need a telescope.
The apps use the GPS and compass in your phone to pinpoint your location and show you where all the surrounding celestial bodies are, even if your view is blocked. Most of the apps don't even need an Internet connection to function so you can take them on camping trips.
Just open the app, point your smartphone at the sky, and the app will identify the planets and stars around you.
We've browsed through some of the top-rated astronomy apps and put together a list of the ones that look the most awesome. Whether you are an aspiring astronomer or just a casual backyard stargazer, these 11 apps can help you locate planets, stars, and galaxies — no telescope required.
SkySafari shows you a map of the sky one million years into the past or future.
Mac App Store
SkySafari can display a map of the sky from any location and shows how positions of celestial bodies change up to one million years into the past or future. It uses images collected from NASA spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope to show you the major planets and moons in the solar system. The app also gets you a subscription to SkyWeek: a magazine that tells you about upcoming eclipses and meteor showers.
Starmap provides a list of suggested celestial bodies to observe each night.
Starmap has about 350,000 stars, 150 galaxies and clusters, and 50 asteroids and dwarf planets. The app gives you the "night's best selection" so you know what you should be looking for on any given night and it identifies shooting star zones. This app is also a point and locate that uses the iPhone's compass to identify the planets and stars right in front of you. You can zoom in on a particular object and the app has a night vision mode — the backlight on your phone dims and the images on the screen glow red so your night vision isn't ruined.