Have you ever wanted to explore the moon? With the free Moon Maps app for Google Android smartphones, you can.

Moon Maps for Android enables you to choose between imagery from the Clementine Mosaic or the Lunar orbiter Mosaic, although the Clementine imagery is generally better. You can pan and zoom in and out using the touchscreen. Points of interest are labeled with colour-coded text: for example, turquoise labels indicate Apollo landing sites.

You can search the database of lunar features, as you type, results are auto-suggested. Click a result to be taken to that location.

Since the imagery in Moon Maps was taken by orbiting spacecraft, the view is birds-eye only, and there is a limit to how far you can zoom in. However, the level of detail is certainly far greater than you would be able to see with a casual telescope.

One flaw of the Moon Maps Android app is that imagery becomes distorted as you go nearer to the lunar poles. I'm not sure why, but since I have seen undistorted images of the lunar poles elsewhere, I'd like to be able to see them in this app.

It would also be nice to be able to click a labelled lunar feature and go to a Wikipedia article (or some other source of information) about it. After awhile, the bleak lunar landscape becomes monotonous, so it would be nice to be able to switch things up a bit.

The developer of this app should take some inspiration from Google Maps and build in some more layers. For instance, the Apollo missions produced many ground-level photographs. It would be fantastic to use this app to look at them in locations where they were taken.


All in all, this app is off to a good start. If you want to learn more about the moon, Moon Maps for Android is an easy way to do it.