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Cosmic Watch review

An intergalactic take on time

Bringing the age-old concept of the astronomical clock into the digital era, the Swiss-made Cosmic-Watch is an interesting prospect, combining timekeeping with astronomy and astrology. As well as standard world clock functions, it features a detailed model of the solar system along with major constellations of stars so that you can view their positions in relation to Earth at any given time, past or future.

Upon launch, you’re presented with an interactive globe, à la Google Earth style, that can be spun and zoomed in to take a closer look at a particular region. While you can’t zoom right in to see towns and roads, you can select a location to show its local time and add it to a favourites list. Tapping the three-dots icon brings up extra options including Time Control, which can be used to rewind or fast-forward time – tap it repeatedly to make the globe spin fast like a basketball!

Other view modes include Astro that shows the astrological positions of planets, you can set the time to your birth date for an instant star chart and there’s a Stars mode that shows constellations in a celestial sphere around the Earth. While the latter offers a good overview of their positions and how they shift during the hours of the night, there’s no way of viewing the heavens from a point on the Earth. So the app isn’t very useful for precise location of celestial objects in the night sky, despite an option to show the equatorial coordinates.

Hidden away in the settings is a wide range of extra options, most notable of which is an orrery-like solar system mode. Use the Time Control to make the planets orbit at an increased speed, which is complete with trails and more detailed information on any solar eclipses detected. Other options include a compass mode along with various overlaid guides, Earth and sky views – the long exposure one of these looks particularly cool.