Images: DavidsonDean

We all know the melody to “Twinkle, twinkle little star” but have you ever looked up on a starry night and wondered what all those celestial bodies really sound like? A new app from Nashville-based DavidsonDean called AstroCantus can help you with that.

Translated as “star songs” in Latin, AstroCantus detects the differing arrays of stars, planets, and galaxies as the earth turns on its axis and assigns each of these “heavenly” bodies a musical value. The app user can then transform these values into notes that can be played in real time on a wide variety of digitally sampled instruments.

Currently available in the iTunes store, AstroCantus generates music by drawing upon vast astronomical databases of more than 120,000 celestial objects.

“Earth is the instrument, the universe is the score,” says the concept’s creator, Rocky Alvey. “Earth turns at a steady rate. Over our heads is an imaginary line astronomers call the ‘meridian.’ Imagine that line functioning just as the reader bar does in a player piano or the tines do in a music box. As Earth turns, every object in the universe crosses the meridian. If we assign musical values to the objects, then Earth becomes the instrument which plays the universe.”

AstroCantus is being marketed at songwriters and musicians to use as inspiration for new melodies and rhythms and to teachers and lovers of astronomy to make stargazing a more inviting and intimate (their words) experience.