Google is to launch a mobile phone application that will identify plants and galaxies, reports the Times.

As yet unofficial, the news sees the internet giant allowing mobile phone owners with GPS-enabled cameraphones to point at the night sky and get instant star gazing data.

The said to be coming-soon Google software, called "Star Droid", uses GPS technology to see where the user is, compares this with existing maps of space, then attaches name tags to the stars and planets that can be seen through the phone's viewfinder.

The app - that's apparently due for launch within weeks - can also identify the object's distance from Earth and its position within a constellation.

"This innovation sounds like it could be really useful to help people learn what they are looking at", Carolin Crawford, of Cambridge University’s institute of astronomy, told the Times.

"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 cameraphone to spot".

UPDATE: Google has launched "Sky Map" for Android phones.