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With only 11 days in review, I am pleased to announce that Distant Suns 2 has just been given Apple’s blessing.

The major features are the addition of mythological images for each of the constellations, more than 10x the amount of stars down to 10th magnitude, speedups of up to 30%, many new selectable star rendering options and dozens of UI tweaks.

I’d love your comments and suggestions. And if you have any trouble with the thing, let me know what device and OS you are running.

Meanwhile, here are some screenshots:



As of 2/2010 this blog has been moved over to :

For those who have bought my iPhone app, Distant Suns, may a thousand blessings rain upon you as a fresh spring rain. For those who haven’t purchased it yet, I am very disappointed in you. But I can wait…..I’m waiting….

While I am waiting, consider this my support blog. I’ll take bug reports and enhancement requests here and hopefully build a little community around what I think is a great little app. Also, please make sure to leave a review on the app page. It bugs me to see a game with about 4 bazillion reviews, a GAME! Sheesh…

Also, DS has some nice website reviews:

You may fetch Distant Suns here and Grand Tour, over here.

Distant Suns

  • What are the main differences between the free version and the super sexy paid version?
    • The free version is effectively the 1.0 version of Distant Suns, with some UI tweaks. Its feature set will remain as it is, a tool to give you an instantaneous snapshot of the sky at your current time. So if you like that, knock yourself out!
    • On the other hand, the paid version gives you:
      • The ability to set the date and time and animate the clock at  hi-speeds
      • Much deeper data for the stars and deep-sky wonders.
      • All sorts of little extra tools to help you navigate and find things.
      • More landscape panoramas.
      • Monthly highlights
      • Tour Guide that will use the monthly highlights
      • Compass for 3GS owners. You can simply hold your iPhone up at any part of the sky and Distant Suns will automatically slew there.
      • Asterisms and other oddball objects
      • Smooth slewing from object to object
      • Historical notes on each constellation
      • Nightvision mode to preserve your dark adapted eyesight when using Distant Suns to identify the real constellations
      • Images of every object in the Messier deep-sky database.
      • Cool (or annoying) sound effects, depending on your taste.
      • And….more jokes.
  • The Tour-guide is showing me stuff that’s not up yet!
    • That’s because the Tour-guide is simply showing you the big things that are likely to be visible that night roughly between 8PM and midnight. So if you switch it on at  noon, don’t be too shocked that it’s aiming you towards the ground.
  • It shows me as being in San Jose when I am actually in Eastern Gilboa. What gives?
    • That means that it couldn’t get a GPS fix for you. Normally it should show a warning when that happens. It then goes to the default city of San Jose, home base for the worldwide Distant Suns empire. If you want it to try again go to Prefs and turn on Use Location Services.
  • Do you plan on having a version that drives a telescope?
    • Not currently. However at some point not only will it drive a telescope it will wash it, change the oil and parallel park it as well.
  • Your ^^#&%$ program keeps crashing!
    • Try deleting it and do a reinstall. It is known that sometimes apps can be corrupted during a download.
    • If that fails and you are not in the North American locale, go to your iPhone/iPod’s International preferences and set the locale to the US. One such crash had to do with the way Greek and Chinese handled time displays that Distant Suns did not anticipate.
  • Can I license your engine for a game I am working on.
    • Yes!
  • Why no constellation artwork?
    • Haven’t found a good source of it yet. But I’m working on it.

Weather Planet

  • Sometimes the clouds are messed up, showing half the earth covered with haze and the other half clear.
    • That is an occasional bug on part of the software that generates the cloud maps. It’s not my software, so there is nothing that I can do about it, I just fetch the cloud data every 3 hours and display what it gives me. It doesn’t happen very often thank goodness, but does give a bad impression if that’s the first thing you see.
  • AIM: lazyastronomer
  • Twitter
    • distantsuns
    • lazyastronomer
  • Blogs

I’ve just discovered a workaround for the landscape mode bug in the latest release of DS. Seems like it breaks if you have Extras->Restore Last Position set in the prefrences. Next release will have that fixed.

Update: Nope, that wasn’t it. I just did that only on my 3GS. Meh. But I think I do have a real fix now which should go out over the weekend.

Apple just approved Distant Suns 2.1 for sale. I did get a note from one user who had an installation problem when first launched, but afterwards it worked fine on subsequent launches.

This just in: (imagine teletypes in the background). If you experience an exit on startup, what is happening is this: I only recently learned that the iPhone has a watchdog timer that limits the amount of time it takes for an app to load. If it goes too long (15 or 20 secs) the iPhone will kill it. The timer is disabled via the dev system, so I rarely came across it. On first use, Distant Suns will fetch the sun’s image that is displayed with the sun’s data. That can be just enough to push it over the line. Relaunching it, it knows not to get a new sun image for a while, and it’s happy.

A fix is in the works.

Grand Tour-3D has been temporarily removed from sale pending some design issues that have cropped up. I hope to have it back up shortly.

A few folks have mentioned that the latest release of Grand Tour (1.3) crashes sometimes when trying to use the preferences.

Well, (pause to scratch head), it works on my 3 ipods and iPhone 3GS, with 3 different OS releases, and two rounds of testing in the Apple labs.

Anyway, I did find one suspicious line of code last night and hope to have a fix posted in the next day or two. Hang tight.

After mistakenly putting the paid version of Distant Suns 2 up on the feed for the Lite version, the real Lite version refresh is now available. Sorry to have to “give and take away” like that. My bad.

If you liked the full app, it is on sale now through next weekend.

My own website, has had a major facelift. Over the next couple of weeks all traffic will be directed there for announcements, etc and this here blog will be put to sleep.

Well well, Apple may be getting the message when it comes to app approval. When Distant Suns 2 was uploaded to Apple, it took 15 days for approval. That was a month ago. DS 2.0.1 was just approved and posted, when I uploaded it just last Monday night! Only 4 days!

The new version fixes two vexing bugs:

  • The latitude and longitude buttons are no longer reversed.
  • The preference for accepting Location Services is now back in place. It had been accidentally dropped off in 2.0
  • There  is now Twitter support! (big whoop). For anyone who really wants to broadcast the minutia of their activities, can log into Twitter and have Distant Suns announce the first 3 objects they are looking at.
  • It also supports APN. Apple Push Notification.

After about 15 years I finally pulled down the old “classic” Distant Suns website and replaced it with a new website of the 21st century. A colleague of mine created it and did a bangup job. Eventually this blog will migrate over there.

I want to thank all you dear hearts who entered the great Celestron First Scope Twitter giveaway.

The Grand Prize winner (drum roll please) is : beebott of Colorado, who gets the Celestron First Scope with accessory pack, and promo codes for Distant Suns 2 and Grand Tour-3D.

The 3 second place winners, for the two software packages:

  1. rooost, of Pacifica, CA
  2. jamesbrowning
  3. fetasue

And the 5 third place winners of the promo code for DS2:

  1. hfaqtor
  2. pestkaj
  3. romanrijkers
  4. rons_scrap_co
  5. bchapxtc

I couldn’t get in contact with #4 and #5 above, so you two, place send me a message and I’ll get the codes out to you right away.

There will be other contests in the future for more telescopes, books, meteorites and other fun things. So stay tuned!

I have received only two bug reports for DS2 of any concern:

  1. No, you’re not going nutz, the Use Location Services preference is actually missing. My bad.
  2. The lat/long setting dialog has the latitude and longitude buttons flipped.

Both have been fixed and I expect to be able to upload 2.0.1 by the weekend, after I get the new Distant Suns Lite out.