Compass & Gyro Help


    If you have an iOS or Android device with a compass, SkySafari can show you the sky in same the direction that you're holding your phone. As you move the phone around, the view on the sky chart follows your motion. You can identify stars and planets by holding your phone up next to them, and you can find any object in the sky by following an arrow that points in its direction.

    Please note: some devices, like the iPod Touch and Kindle Fire, have a gyroscope but no compass. The toolbar icon for Compass will say Gyro instead.

    You can activate the compass (or gyro) as follows:

    • Tilt your device upward.

    • Tap the Compass icon in the toolbar.

    • On a device with gyro but no compass, tap the Gyro button in the toolbar to activate the gyro.

    Tap the Compass (or Gyro) button again, or touch any part of the sky chart, to turn the compass (or gyroscope) off. You can enable or disable the "tilt up to use" compass feature in the Settings > Appearance & Behavior screen. You can turn off "Tilt to Use Compass" if you find that you're accidentally activating the compass too often, or if you prefer to activate it from the main toolbar.

    Please note: in SkySafari Plus and Pro, the compass and gyroscope cannot be used when you are orbiting another object in the solar system. You can only use the compass when you are viewing from Earth. See the Orbit button Help for more information.

    Using the Compass

    SkySafari uses the compass to center the sky chart on the direction you're holding your phone. You can also use it to find objects in the sky. To do this, first turn on the compass. Then tap Search, and enter the name of the object you're looking for. When the Object Info view appears, tap the Locate button at the bottom of view. An arrow appears, leading you toward your selected object. Follow the arrow with your phone to center the object on the screen. When the object is centered, the arrow disappears, and your phone will be pointing toward the object's position in the sky.

    In SkySafari Plus and Pro, the compass and altimeter will be turned off if you connect to a telescope, or lock on the telescope's position in the sky chart. The sky chart cannot be centered on the telescope's position, and centered on the coordinates reported by the compass, at the same time.

    A note on accuracy: the solid-state compass built into most mobile devices is not very accurate, and easily affected by interference. It can easily be wrong by ten degrees or more. The compass may be useful for locating bright objects in a general part of the sky, but it's certainly not accurate enough to point a telescope.

    Using the Gyro

    Unlike the compass/accelerometer, the gyroscope measures your device's orientation relative to a known starting point. The gyro does not measure your device's true orientation relative to north/south/east/west or up/down in the sky. So to find your way around the sky with the gyroscope, you'll need to use a slightly different process.

    First, locate a known reference object in the sky, like the Moon. Then search for the same object in SkySafari, and center it on the screen. With the object centered, hold your device toward the object in the sky. Then tap the gyro button (with a finger in your other hand!) to turn on the gyro. Now, as you move your device around, the gyroscope follows its orientation relative to the object you used as a starting point. As you move the device around, the sky chart on the screen follows to match the view in the sky behind it.

    As with the compass, you can use the gyroscope to find an object in the sky. Start with a known object in the sky, then find and center the same known object in SkySafari's sky chart, and turn on the gyroscope - just as described above. Then search for the unknown object you're trying to find in SkySafari. When the Object Info view appears for that object, tap the Center button. SkySafari show an arrow that leads toward the object; follow the arrow with your phone to find the object in the sky.


    • Avatar
      George Adornato

      safarisky 5 plus will not D/L onto my pixel 2 xl.It just keeps saying downloading but doesn't D/L. I downloaded it onto my samsung GalaxyTab Aand I get a shadowed checked box next to compass in the main tools section but I get no compass or gyro icon on the downloaded app. why no compass icon? also I cancelled the download to my phone but according to my bank statement I paid $6.99 twice. So I am trying to get a refund for the failed downloads.1 for the one on my tablet in which there's no compass or gyro icon on app and the other due to failure to download on my Pixel 2 XL phonr a total of $13.98.
      Please help me clear up this problem.
      Thank you

    • Avatar

      Compass on iPhone 8+. First, move away from any nearby metal object which will be causing interference; light pole, car, overhead power lines, ect.
      Question 1, When the device compass is tracking wrong (more than ten degrees), is it necessary to close Skysafari (SS) and reopen SS after calibating the compass? Or just turn off SS compass, calibrate, reactivate SS compass.
      When you turn on SS compass, then SS retrieves signal from phone’s solid-state sensor (compass).
      Question 2, what is mechanism by which SS conpass gets signal, does SS have time intervals and keep interacting with phones solid-state sensor? Or one-and-done?

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      Jill Mcdonald

      The AR button turns on by itself and my screen will turn from latitude to longitude and back again, stretching the image. What button do I tap to see op this ? At the current time, I just completely lock down the iPhone then turn it back on. This gets annoying when I am trying to find a specific item.

    • Avatar
      Keiron Smith


      In Settings > Appearance and Behaviour > Tilt to Use Compass <- disable this.