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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.



  1. Hey Mike,
    one of the great apps around for the iPhone 3G!
    I like the tour in the recent update a lot.
    However -I don’t know if it’s your fault or Apple’s – the new update insists on wanting to be installed even though it is present already, this with OS 3.1 and enough space left of 16Gb.
    I went through the installation update three times and the notifier badge keeps showing up in the app store. I’ve alerted Apple of this as well since I’ve run into the same problem about eight months ago.
    Great app, though. Suggestions for improvements are coming soon!

    • Hi Dorian, thanks for the kind comments. I don’t know what the deal is regarding your install problems. Is it that the little update badge never goes away? All of that is in the domain of Apple. If that’s the worse problem with 2.0, then you can thank my beta testers for that.

        • Kelly
        • Posted November 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm
        • Permalink

        This update issue is happening with LOTS of apps. It’s been happening for over 3 weeks now and is not specific to Distant Suns.

        I’ve got about 600 apps so I’m constantly seeing update badges, updating, and still seeing the apps.

        BTW: Thank you Mike again for a great app. I’ve been a Distant Suns user since the first Mac version. It was a tremendously pleasant surprise to see that you had made an iPhone version!

  2. An app that would display satelites would go great with a great app like distant suns.

  3. Mike,

    I just downloaded the app for my iphone 3GS. There is quite a bit to take in for a novice. I’ve looked at the FAQ’s and they were helpful but what I was looking for was a real user guide. Have you ever considered putting one together. I’d be happy to volunteer some of my time to make this happen. Let me know if your interested.


  4. Great little app, very useful!
    I have a request – can the texture used for the horizon be changed to something with less of an altitude – ie, can you take out the trees and buildings and just show flat ground?

    • Hi Tom, nope, you cannot edit the horizon image. Although several folks have asked for just a flat shaded horizon, so it is on the list.

  5. Great app.. it has left traces on my screen? tried reboot respring etc. if i remove and reinstall will it still go on 2.1.XX? or is it 3.0 only?

    • Hi Tom, I’m not sure that you mean “it has left traces on my screen”. It is a 2.2.x and greater app, so should fail on any OS version before then.

        • Tom
        • Posted July 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm
        • Permalink

        dead pixels on my screen
        ver 2.2.1
        had to remve app dead pixels stay

  6. Can’t get M31 to display. I see the yellow words, but no image or dot or anything. Also, why would you exclude M31 from your tour? I mean it’s the only extra galactic object visible with the naked eye.

    • Hi Keith, if all you see are “the words” in yellow, that means you are zoomed in a little too much. I switch over to text at 20 degrees or less. Merely as a way to relieve some of the screen clutter. Both the point and the text versions work with Point & Identify.

      And the reason why M31 is not a part of the June tour, is that it is really not a good object for summer. It’s a classic winter object so you’ll see it in the lists from September through February.

  7. Love this app even more than the desktop version I had years ago. (mostly because it is pocket sized 😉

    With the new iPhone 3.0 OS on the way, have you had given any thought to leveraging the new ability for the iPhone to control external devices to allow DS to link with and control motor-driven telescopes?

    Though this would require the purchase of a custom cable, I would LOVE such a feature! GPS positioning is very expensive. It would be great to hook up the iPhone, let it locate your position, and point the telescope to whatever star or object you want to see.

    Thanks for the great app.


    • Hi Ron, currently my market is not the telescope owning community. Although I hope that the software will help enlarge that community! So for now, telescope control is somewhat further down the list of other features.

      Thank you for your support and comments. Please leave a review on iTunes when you have a chance along with any other websites and blogs you visit!

  8. Oh oh oh! Also ability to switch to stars given names? Castor and Pollux are more exciting and easy for me to remember than alpha this and sigma that :p

  9. Hi! I’ve been using DS for a while and it’s been pretty spot on for me, no crashes and i’ve customized my setup to a great liking.

    But I hear there’s an update coming up so I just wanted to get in some requests and suggestions :p.

    Firstly to me, some of the constellations that DS uses are a tad different than ones I’m used to (I.e. I’m used to a simpler Aquarius but pices is the same). I know there’s different versions so I ask if you could make it a selectable option in the future?

    Also, toggling planetary orbits (w/ different colors 😉 would be way sweet too!

    Anyway, thanks for the amazing app, def worth the buy! Good work!

  10. As an old Amiga user it was so nice to see this app reappear for my iPhone. But as a user from “Downunder” it seems we’ve been a little forgotten when it comes to the Deep Sky database. The Messier catalogue is seriously limited when it comes to southern sky observing. No Omega centauri, no 47-Tuc, no Jewel Box, no Tarantula Nebula, no Eta Carina nebula. Any chance of introducing some of the finest NGC objects into the Deep Sky database??

    • Thanks for the feedback. As a matter of fact I was working on some southern objects just last week. Not nearly enough though, but trying to wrap a few up into the next rev until I can get more time to really give the southern skies their due.

  11. I love the DS app. Couple ideas for you: (1) Add a browsable list of Stars, just like you currently have for Planets, Constellations, and “Other”. (2) A fantastic feature which you should really add in the future is a Search function which will search all celestial objects. When you click the search result, it locates the object in the sky.

    • Hi Tyler, the next rev will definitely have a nice list of the brightstar catalog.

      I want to put a search in their as well using the standard iPhone UI toolkit. But there is one hitch. When in “night vision” mode, I can tint the search box red but I cannot tint the keyboard. It is currently off limits, and would blast someone’s eyes after they spent a nice 20 or 30 minutes getting dark adapted. Even the icons in the toolbar are bright enough to get me one letter of complaint. I might eventually toss it in if it looks like Apple will never expose the keyboard to us.

  12. hello larry,
    i got your app after i spoke with you on IM,(3/20/09) i realy love it, although it crashes after about 5 to 7 min’s of use..and yes i did delete and reinstall and it still kept it up…tried to contact you..but have not heard if this is a new bug or what. if i get word of a fix or update i will redownload it, cause it realy did rock for the time it was up!!!


  13. I believe that 28 omega piscium located at:
    23h 59m 19″ 06 deg 51m 48 ” is misnamed as 28 psi psc

    I noticed this as it is right near the moon tonight 1/30/09

    Hope this helps

    • Oh man, you got me! That was a little trick to see if anyone had sharp enough eyes to catch it. …. No not really. But I am impressed nonetheless. I’ll add it to the typo list.

  14. Just purchased Distant Suns for my iPod last night. A very nice application but it would be nice if you added rise and set times for the moon. If they are there somewhere then accept my apologies, but I can’t find them if they are. A monthly moon table would be nice too.

    Keep up the good work,
    Gary Berard

    • Yup, still haven’t had time to get the moonrise/moonset installed. I have a pretty strict release schedule so sometimes just have to pare a few things for the next release. The moonrise/set times are actually a little problematic since the thing is a moving target so the calcs aren’t nearly as clean as for relatively fixed objects. Either that or I was just really lazy when it came time to code it up.

  15. Thanks for the notes. There are no formal “official” constellation outlines, so they will differ from app to app.

    The flat horizon has been on my checklist, but just didn’t have time to add it for 1.2.


  16. Hi there,

    Just wanted to say its a great little app but i seem to be encountering a couple of problems.

    This morning i was playing about on my desktop with Stellarium) and noticed that it draws some of the constellations most noticeably Libra and Scorpius differently.

    Now i don’t know which is correct!

    Location 52’01’N, 0’33’W
    Date 21 Jan 09 Time 08:12
    Looking South

    I’d also like to have a plain flat landscape since i prefer not to see stuff below the horizon by dont want the low down clutter.

    Other than that its a brilliant app


  17. The latest version 1.1.1 get crashed when we start it in ipod. It never works on my ipod. Can we get refund from AppStore?

    • If deleting and installing the app doesn’t seem to work, check other settings on the devices that might not be US Centric, if you are not in the US. I had a Greek gent discover that his Greek localization settings were causing the app to crash on startup. Those have since been fixed for the next rev.

  18. Thanks Pete, yup, noticed that last night. Looks like my Venus is about a day ahead of where it should be. Either that or there’s a bug in nature and DS is correct. I prefer the latter explanation myself.

    Gonna take a look at it later in the week.

  19. I’m an astronomy novice, just got distant suns, and I love it. Nonetheless, one thing that I did notice tonight, Dec 1 2008 near Denver, may be an error in the program. …
    I located the moon, venus, and jupiter in the app and then in the sky. The relative vertical position (azimuth) of venus and jupiter seemed to be wrong. In the sky, venus was closer to the horizon than jupiter. In distant suns, venus was farther from the horizon than jupiter. …
    Otherwise, the orientation of both planets relative to the moon seemed correct. ….
    Did anyone else notice this?

  20. Thanks Mike for taking the time to comment. That helps me prioritize my next upgrade list. On the time control, I could add a fourth toolbar in the cycle, but am concerned if that starts flowing over into annoying-land. It would be nice to have that quick access though.

    Also good idea on the flat horizon. I’ll add that to the list.

  21. Actually given the next few days of after sunset spectacke, the time toolbar should do a +/- day option as well, given you are stuck for only 6 items then maybe +/- hour +/- day would be OK…

  22. Nice app, but larry is right, desperately needs to be able to set the time.

    How about another toolbar with + – time so that you can jump an hour / 5 mins into and out of the future, or then bring up a full iPhone date/time picker

    The multiple menu bars are good, but maybe add a title to explain each menu set.

    And just to go for broke, how about a neutral horizon image that just gives you the “middle of the ocean” horizon line. I like to see that something is below the horizon, but dislike the various “protruding objects”

  23. Hi Ethan, thanks for taking the time to write. You’ve brought up something that I never even considered….that some folks might not realize that the planets beyond Saturn are just too dim to see with the naked eye. I’ll have to address that in an upcoming release and highlight just the naked-eye planets to make it more obvious. Hope that will keep it from “just falling short”.

  24. I’ve always been interested in astronomy and star gazing, but haven’t had the chance to learn much on either.

    I’d hoped that Distant Suns would be useful for the layman. Unfortunately it falls just short.

    The “What’s Up” feature is cool. I love being able to look up in the sky and then try to figure out which planet I’m looking it. But the keyword here is “try”.

    I can only make an intelligent guess but I can’t tell for sure.

    Just yesterday I thought I was looking at Jupiter and Neptune above it. But there wasn’t enough information for me to confirm that. Is Neptune visible with the naked eye? I didn’t know.

    It might help perhaps if DS wasn’t just “location aware” but also “orientation aware”. Then I would be able to say for sure that I’m looking at the right part of the sky.

    Am I asking for too much? I hope not. Just trying to give you a layman perspective on the software.

  25. Hi Peter, yes, DS is GPS aware. The largest swath of the sky is 99 degrees. Anything greater, the visuals just get too cluttered with those star-like thingies to make much sense.

  26. does this program detect where you are via the built in gps, ie time/place and provide a star map?
    What is the largest ‘slice’ of the evening sky provided??


  27. Thanks for the note. I’ll check into that.


  28. Just downloaded to my ipod touch and really have enjoyed your
    program. One minor strange bug, when setting W Longitude
    manually, I can set 95.24 and 95.26 but when I try to set
    95.25 it changes to 95.24 No big deal, but thought you might want to know. One suggestion for the next update, a way to manually enter a viewing time. Thanks for a really great program.

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