GOOGLE is preparing to launch a mobile phone application called Star Droid that can help amateur astronomers identify stars and planets. The search engine software will use GPS technology to compare the position of the phone user with existing maps of space, attaching name tags to the stars and planets that can be seen through the phones viewfinder. The California-based internet company already offers a Google Sky facility that gives online browsers a map of space similar to its Google Earth and Google Street View services. The application could reignite interest in planets and constellations that has been dampened by light pollution from street lamps that make the night sky hard to observe. Google, which charges advertisers in its UK sites through a subsidiary based in Ireland saving it 100m a year in corporation tax, has not confirmed a launch date for Star Droid. A spokeswoman said: There are lots of great applications being produced all the time so you will just have to watch this space. The firm recently faced criticism following the introduction of its Street View system which provides a 360-degree view of tens of thousands of roads in Britains biggest cities, sparking privacy concerns and accusations that it is a tool for burglars. Telegraph Its existing Google Spy space maps have been created with the help of images from the Britains Astronomy Technology Centre - part of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh - and the Palomar Observatory in California, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Digital Sky Survey Consortium, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Carolin Crawford, of Cambridge Universitys institute of astronomy, which runs open evenings for the public, told the Sunday Times: This innovation sounds like it could be really useful to help people learn what they are looking at. It will be interesting to see how much the camera on the phones will be able to pick up. The night sky is pretty crowded. Whereas Venus can appear bright in the sky, many stars appear very dimly and may be difficult for a camera-phone to spot. Schoolchildren learn about the solar system under the national curriculum, but few are taught how to find specific planets or stars. Graham Bryant, chairman of the Hampshire Astronomical Group, told the newspaper: If children are studying geology they are often happy to go out and examine rocks, but not many children seem to be able to navigate their way round the night sky. The California-based internet behemoth already offers a Google Sky facility that gives online browsers a map of space similar to its Google Earth and Google Street View services. The application could reignite interest in planets and constellations that has been dampened by light pollution from street lamps that make the night sky hard to observe. Google, which charges advertisers in its UK sites through a subsidiary based in Ireland saving it 100m a year in corporation tax, has not commented on Star Droid. It recently faced criticism following the introduction of its Street View system which provides a 360-degree view of tens of thousands of roads in Britains biggest cities, sparking privacy concerns and accusations that it is a tool for burglars. Its existing Google Spy space maps have been created with the help of images from the Britains Astronomy Technology Centre - part of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh - and the Palomar Observatory in California, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Digital Sky Survey Consortium, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Carolin Crawford, of Cambridge Universitys institute of astronomy, which runs open evenings for the public, told the Sunday Times: This innovation sounds like it could be really useful to help people learn what they are looking at. It will be interesting to see how much the camera on the phones will be able to pick up. The night sky is pretty crowded. Whereas Venus can appear bright in the sky, many stars appear very dimly and may be difficult for a camera-phone to spot. Schoolchildren learn about the solar system under the national curriculum, but few are taught how to find specific planets or stars. Graham Bryant, chairman of the Hampshire Astronomical Group, told the newspaper: If children are studying geology they are often happy to go out and examine rocks, but not many children seem to be able to navigate their way round the night sky.