Have you ever tried to read the time in the stars? Or the date from the Sun’s shadows? That’s now easy – with the app BEHIND THE STARS. It combines historical mathematical instruments with modern visualizations to teach the basics of naked-eye astronomy in 20 interactive learning segments.

Available in both German and English, the app is based on digitized versions of four early-modern, princely instruments on display at the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon in Dresden:

  • A nocturnal (Johann Michael Hager, Braunschweig, after 1707);
  • A horizontal sundial with lunar volvelle (Christoph Schissler, Augsburg, 1562);
  • A clockwork-driven celestial globe (Johannes Reinhold & Georg Roll, Augsburg 1586);
  • An astrolabe (Johannes Praetorius, Nuremberg, 1568).

The app can be explored individually (recommended from age 12) or used in a group, in the so-called Workshop Mode. Several features of this latter mode are designed to facilitate classroom use; for instance, teachers can choose to incorporate the suggested comprehension questions built into each unit or add questions of their own, and there are also group projects using the app to chart the Sun’s shadows or the Moon’s phases.

With BEHIND THE STARS it’s now indeed possible to understand the movements in the heavens in the palm of your hand.

BEHIND THE STARS is available free of charge on smartphones and tablets for Android and iOS.

    Using an astrolabe within the BEHIND THE STARS app.