6 Ways to Explore Space With Apple TV

Explore the stars from the comfort of your living room

Sunlight ascending over Earth in outer space

Caiaimage / Rana Dias / Getty Images

Apple TV continues to evolve. Not only is it becoming a tool for self-learning, now even budding rocket scientists can take a look at the stars thanks to this hand-picked selection of apps for armchair astronomers and wannabe space travelers.

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German astronaut on a space walk
Get A Real Sense of Space With Nasa's brilliant app.

Alexander Gerst / Getty Images

What We Like
  • Space station sighting opportunities by viewer location.

  • "This Week at NASA" videos.

  • Extensive podcast library.

What We Don't Like
  • Basic site design.

  • Public directory gives little information.

Downloaded over 17 million times on all platforms so far (iOS devices, Android and Fire OS), NASA's app puts a wonderful treasure trove of unique information at the command of any space enthusiast. You can explore spectacular views and images from space, and stay up to date with real space missions. You’re looking at high-definition video streams, 3D satellite tracking maps, mission updates and much more from NASA inside Apple TV. The app also offers a library of 15,000 stunning space images. There’s something for music fans, too, as it gives you access to NASA’s very own alternative rock station, ​​Third Rock.

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Solar Walk 2

Solar Walk 2 Digital render of the international space station
You can explore space in a truly intimate way with Solar Walk.
What We Like
  • Complex simulations based on photographic data.

  • Original soundtrack.

  • Universal app for tvOS and iOS.

What We Don't Like
  • Visuals are reconstructions, not photos.

  • TvOS and iOS apps are sold separately.

Another great app for armchair astronomers and space enthusiasts, Solar Walk 2 lets you explore the known universe from a range of angles. The app provides you with excellent detail, and provides you with a range of views you may not find in the NASA app — you can even see the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope flying over the Earth in real-time. The developers build their own models of space from photos and blueprints, and you can explore the details in close-up very easily. This critically acclaimed app is one of the top-selling apps you’ll find on the App Store.

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Night Sky

Night Sky app screenshot
Where will I find that star?.
What We Like
  • Illustrated star positions day or night.

  • Special sections on major astronomical events.

  • Expanded features when paired with iOS app.

What We Don't Like
  • Siri's narration sounds artificial.

  • Premium subscription needed for iOS companion app to work.

A useful app for any stargazer, Night Sky lets you explore maps of the stars, offers interactive 3D models of the Solar System and provides a wealth of information about thousands of the stars, planets, and satellites that comprise it. There’s also a Latest News section and Night Sky View, the latter offering real-time guide to the stars above you right now.

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Mars Weather

Mars Weather app on TV
What We Like
  • Stunning photos of Mars.

What We Don't Like
  • No current weather data.

  • A photography app, not a weather app.

  • In-app purchase includes only 25 photos.

The Mars Weather app provides you with a range of interesting and unique views from Curiosity Rover exploring the surface of Mars. The app provides you with all kinds of information, including the climate data gathered by the probe. The app also offers a range of images taken from space and by the Rover itself, which you can skip through or autoplay. Weather data is provided by the Mars Atmospheric Aggregation System (MAAS).

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Starfield TV

Stars in space
Fly through the stars with StarFlight.
What We Like
  • Colorful eye candy for Apple TV.

  • Can be used as a screensaver.

What We Don't Like
  • Not based on data.

  • Simple app only does one thing.

Starfield TV is more of a visualization of space exploration than a factual exploration of the solar system, giving you a sense of what it might be like to fly through your choice of 24 colorful star fields. You can set the speed of travel, choose the direction and the number of stars. While this app shouldn’t be seen as being an educational app in the traditional sense, it does fill the gap of being an engaging little screensaver for your Apple TV.

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Earthlapse Watch the Earth from Space
Just travelling round the planets.
What We Like
  • 4K views from International Space Station.

  • Live views when available.

  • Companion iOS app available.

  • Lots of interesting extras.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires 4th generation Apple TV or later.

The Earthlapse TV app is a virtual window on the International Space Station that lets you look down on the Earth below, like a stranded space explorer. Watch the world turn in real-time, explore the aurora borealis or stare at the Brazilian coastline as the station travels overhead. While it uses some of the same video feeds you'll find in the excellent NASA TV app, it has useful features that make it unique. One of these being its graphics, which are built using Apple’s powerful Metal graphics engine. You’ll also find 18 unique videos taken by ISS astronauts, eight different soundtracks, and four different clocks.