Look Back with SkySafari as Saturn Probe Images Earth

App sale for iOS, Mac, Android tracks Cassini event on July 19th

San Francisco, CA, July 16th, 2013 - On Friday, July 19th, 2013, the Cassini spacecraft - now in its 8th year orbiting the ringed planet - will image the Earth from the far side of Saturn. As the Earth prepares for its first interplanetary photo shoot, Southern Stars has released brand new updates to its SkySafari apps for iOS, Android, and Mac OS X, to let viewers all around the world follow the occasion.

This will be the first time that the Earth's inhabitants will know in advance that their picture is being taken from a billion miles away. Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini imaging team, originated the idea and led the effort to get the picture taken with her cameras on Cassini. Ms. Porco writes, "It is a rare opportunity for people the world over to stop what they're doing, go outside at the moment the picture is being taken, and celebrate their own existence on our beautiful, lush, life-giving planet."

SkySafari's basic version will be free on the iTunes Store from July 19th through July 21st; it's normally USD $3 on the iTunes Store and Google Play. With SkySafari, observers around the globe can easily use their iPhone or Android's GPS, compass, and accelerometer to easily locate Saturn in the sky. A brand new release of SkySafari Plus and Pro (3.8.1) lets mobile app users fly to Saturn, and simulate the view from Cassini. These powerful apps will be offered at up to 25% off regular price on July 19th, the day of the event, through Sunday July 21st.

Because the public outreach surrounding The Day The Earth Smiled has global scope, Southern Stars will donate 15% of all app proceeds on July 19th to Astronomers Without Borders. AWB is coordinating grassroots outreach programs around the world in association with the event. All three version of SkySafari for iOS have recently been internationalized to Spanish and French, as well as English, making them an even better choice for Saturn-watchers worldwide.

Southern Stars has created a short video which shows how to view Saturn, and simulate the Cassini event on July 19th, with SkySafari Plus on an iPad. The event is shown both from California, USA, and from Cassini itself, looking back on Earth from Saturn.

[VIDEO: 2 min 42 sec] How to view Saturn, and simulate the Earth-imaging event on July 19th,
when the Cassini spacecraft will image Earth from the far side of Saturn. Shown with SkySafari Plus on an iPad.

Related news: Carolyn Porco's organization, Diamond Sky Productions, is holding two contests associated with the event, that invite contributions from the public - images in one and music in the other. You may also click for more information about programs involving the public being conducted by Astronomers Without Borders.

To download the basic version of SkySafari, use the following links:

To download SkySafari Plus, use the following links:

To download SkySafari Pro, use the following links:

Please note: the basic version of SkySafari does not provide the 3D Saturn/Cassini simulation shown in the second half of this video. This new feature is exclusive to SkySafari Plus and Pro. However, SkySafari's basic version can help you find Saturn in Earth's sky using your mobile device GPS, compass, and accelerometer.

The following images are associated with this release and may be reused freely with proper attribution.
Credit and copyright: Southern Stars Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Left: SkySafari Plus simulates Cassini imaging the Earth from behind Saturn's rings on an iPhone 5.
Above: Cassini orbiting Saturn ten days before the imaging event, fully illuminated in sunlight.
Simulated by SkySafari Pro on an iPhone 5. Click either image to enlarge.

About Southern Stars Group, LLC

Southern Stars Group, LLC is a world leader in mobile applications for astronomy, and has been developing planetarium software since 1993. In 2009, Southern Stars developed SkyFi, the first wireless iPhone-based solution for telescope control. That product, and the first version of the SkySafari iPhone app, won a MacWorld 2010 Best of Show award. Southern Stars was the also the first company to ship a Made-for-iPad serial cable for iOS devices (SkyWire). To date, Southern Stars' iPhone apps have been downloaded more than 2 million times, and have earned five-star reviews on the app store and by independent reviewers.

In 2012, Southern Stars successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign to develop and launch its own satellite, called SkyCube. Due for launch in 2013, SkyCube will let smartphone users broadcast messages and take pictures from orbit.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Southern Stars Group, LLC has more than three decades of collective experience in developing astronomical software, telescope control systems, and instrumentation.

Tim DeBenedictis
+1 (415) 671-6254