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Solar Weather Browser - STD SWIM - STD Aurora Monitor - Swarm - Orbiter - BOINC - SETI@home

SETI Spy - Satellite Tracker - EarthBrowser - TheSky Pocket Ed - Palm Pilot Tools - Aberrator - IntelliWave

Quick Fringe - Visual Spectrum - Ephemeris Tools - Astronomy Lab - Météore - Eclipse Map

Moonrise - AstroMeeus - MessMara - NBody 3D - CCD - LX 200 remote control panel

HF Propagation programs - Ham, DSP and satellite tracking software

(c) 2001-2002

Lunar Software Inc.

Trial version, registred $20


This small tool, 1.4 MB in size, conceals however a huge potential. It gives you an intuitive view of weather and physical conditions on the Earth. Using 3D modeling and a web connection, it displays the last forecasts, earthquakes, volcanos and clouds coverage.
Images are created from real data and can be animated and rotate in all directions. In-out zooms allow you to see the global change or detail images of a selected area. The cloud coverage are updated from satellites images each hour from synoptic measures and takes in account the earth umbra path along the day and seasons.

In option you can link to worldwide Webcams at the condition to download the Quicktime 4 engine.

Now at version 1.7, EarthBrowser runs on all Windows 32-bits platforms. The trial version displays a lower resolution than the registered package but gives satisfactory results for a casual user.

I suggest to all editors of HF propagation programs interested in low bands predictions to take a look at this interface...

(c) 2001, Bisque, $79

TheSky Pocket Edition

In early 2001, Bisque released a Pocket Edition of his famous TheSky planetarium software for all Pocket PC (Palm, Cassiopeae, etc).

First of all, bugs listed in Sky & telescope test-report in the same time were resolved in the release 1.00.007 of TheSky PE. 

The main advantage of this pocket planetarium is that you can interface it with all scopes, from Celestron's Ultima 2000, NexStar series, Meade's LX200 and Autostar, as well as other systems using optical encoders (Tele Vue Sky Tour, Lumicon Sky Vector, Orion Sky Wizard, etc...). You simply "Sync" your Pocket PC, locate your DSO and you can use TheSky to slew the telescope! A blessing if you are bored to use atlases in the field to get an information about a celestial object : click on the DSO on the screen instead of deciphering a five-digit designation in the telescope's internal database and all TheSky database is available at your fingertips.

Now at version 1.00.007, TheSky PE runs on Windows CE platforms with 2.7 MB of RAM to display 15000 stars, in addition to another 1.3 MB to run. The (almost) full SAO star catalog of 252000 stars (on 259000) requires installing another 4 MB RAM.

A version "TheSky Pocket Edition" with "Pocket TPoint" software" is also available ($129). This second product helps you to drive a Paramount ME, AP-GTO, LX200, Autostar, NexStar, Temma or other supported telescope. To complete this set, SnoopSoft provides a tool to customize your screen colors.

Test-reports of this configuration are available to Sky & TelescopeHave fun !

Portents website

Palm Pilot Tools

If you are working or would like to use these electronic agenda, here is one more reason to ask for one for your next birthday... Searching astronomy programs I had the surprise to receive a mail from my friend Briang Tung listing dozen of applications immediately deliverable for the Palm's serie, including his new PalmAtlas v1 programmed using the Unix tools (prc-tools and pilrc). This software available for Unix, PC and Mac OS is able to display on any Palm Pilot 25,000 stars down to magnitude 7.5, with 32 bytes per star with an extension to magnitude 9.0 for four circular regions around the Pleiades, the Virgo cluster and the two celestial poles. PalmAtlas v1 displays all Messier, NGC and IC DSO's too.

There are also out there plenty of other astronomy programs, in text or graphic mode suited for these small agenda, simulating the night sky, the moon phases, the configuration of jovian satellites, artificial satellite passes or calculating various ephemerides.

If you are interested in getting a programming environment I suggest you to look at Palmos, which provides SDKs and developpment environments for Windows, MacOS and Unix. Be sure to get MathLib as this provides you the trig that you will want to avoid writing yourself.

One of the main sources of software is the Astronomical Computing section of Sky & Telescope. Their pages list programs written for the Pilot, PalmPilot or Palm III and many other systems.

You may also take a look at the amazing Marek Kozubal's Portents collection of programs. His very complete and updated website lists some populars astronomy programs, with features and screenshots like the ones displayed at left, Star Pilot Plus, NGC and PocketSat. Most of them can be downloaded in a feature-limited version.

2001, Cor Berrevoets



Coincidence, as I was asking on SAA forum for an application able to generate images of stars as seen through telescopes (showing Airy-disc with diffractions rings, PSF), Cor Berrevoets contacted me from The Netherlands suggesting to look at his program, just released a few days before.

His freeware Aberrator displays static images showing the effects of several types of aberrations (coma, astigmatism, spherical, coma, tube-current, pinch, TDE) on scopes performances according their aperture and their obstruction. Subjects processed are stars, double stars or planets. You can also display the resulting image in B/W or color, changing the focus, the wavelenghts and the focal shift.. These processes take in account the seeing (turbulence) and are processed in a few seconds.

The program is completed with a Point Spread Function (PSF), Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) and PV/RMS wavefront images. This small but powerful tool uses 2d-Fast Fourier Transform and is based on Harold Suiter's book titled "Star testing Astronomical telescopes: a manual for optical evaluation and adjustment" which will complete this program.

The program reads source files in JPG and exports star-test image in JPG format.

Now at version 3, Aberrator runs on most Windows platforms, from 95 to XP.

Measurement of a 2m mirror under polishing that will be used for a future space telescope.

A large 12 inch multi-lens system.

(c) 2001

Engineering Synthesis Design



Raymond Castonguay designed these last years IntelliWave, a complex optical application that can be used with virtually any static or phase shifted interferometer. The simpliest version of the product, called LE-1 can easily acquire raw data from RS-170/CCIR cameras or scanned images files saved in BMP, TIFF, JPG, PNG or EPS formats. Once loaded the raw datas are then processed to generate surface data (phase) from one fringe frame and displayed in various floating windows showing surface maps, diffractions patterns (FFT, PSF, MTF) or interferograms. 

All controls are available from pull-down menus or directly from menus icons. Other displays are under your control like the 3D plot of surface map : you can select a colormap or a perspective view, choose to display the profile of the surface according the position of the mouse on the object or rotate it using some keystrokes. All plots are completely customizable including colors, annotation, labeling, scaling and resolution. These plots are completed by various post-processing tools and computation of surface statistics includes P-V, average, RMS and Strehl ratio.

Of course IntelliWave computes Zernikes and Seidels (all aberrations). It can be interfaced with Fizeau, Speckle, Twyman-Green, Holographic and Moiré interferometers.

If IntelliWave LE-1 presents a fringe resolution up to 800x600 pixels on 8 bits, version PE supports a resolution up to 4096x4096 pixels on 16 bits and Mega Pixel cameras. Version PE can send data in real-time to and from Excel, Research System's IDL and MatLab. PE version also performs phase-shifted multi-interferogram data acquisition and analysis which is much more accurate than single-interferogram analysis.
Last but not least it can use LabView to take interferometric data as a function of any real-world parameter such as temperature, stress and vibration.

Optionaly the author provides a complete interferometric software library and  can provide drivers to support cameras such CIDTEC 2250 (512x512 pixels on 8 bits), Kodak Mega Plus or any custom camera of your choice or even frames grabbers. Unsupported devices request however a fee of $1500 to develop the interface.

Now at version 3.05, IntelliWave print all statistical and aberration data in a easily readable format. It requests at least a 500 MHz CPU and any version of Windows 32-bit. It comes with a complete manual while the online help provides all useful information with some dump screens. I only had one DrWatson under NT although I used a PC with large resources. A demonstration version requesting an authentication password  is available from the author's website. Only counterpoint, the price of this product is as expensive as a large telescope... but Raymond Castonguay offers 50% discounts to Educational Institutions and in some situations donate the product to certain  Educational Institutions.

(c) 1999

Cyanogen, $1500

Quick Fringe

This renowned optical software gathers all functions you need to test telescope manufacturing or cross-checking large instruments (a few meters aperture) at a competitive price. 

This version is a major upgrade providing more interfaces to frame grabber cards (ImageNation CX100, FlashBus MV, VideoPort Pro), automatic fringe tracing, a customizable printed test reports and help support. All data measured with a laser can be converted in interferogram and auto-traced, analyzed and displayed graphically through Quick Fringe.

It displays usual functions like 3D isometric plot, countour map, line profile, synthetic interferogram, aberrations data and Zernike Polynomials. Wavefront data includes RMS, P-V, Strehl ratio, Seidel aberrations and more.

It is completed with a manual fringe editor able to modify points, add or delete fringe order or alter the aperture and obstruction.

The program exports wavefront map and Zernike polynomials and reads BMP and JPEG file formats. Now at version 4, it runs on Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000.

2000, Valérie Desnoux


Visual Spectrum

Written by Valérie Desnoux, VSpec is a tool dedicated to spectral study.

Spectral imagery consists in reducing then analyzing the spectrum of an object obtained by appropriate equipment, the spectroscop, usually connected to a CCD device. The image is then reduced to a spectral profile (graph) representing the intensity of the spectrum by pixel.

Starting from the spectral profile recorded by a CCD or scanned from a negative, one carries out the analysis. The first operation consists of calibrating the profile in wavelength. VSpec provides an empirical reference spectra based only on instrumentation parameters defined by the user. To calculate the law of dispersion, VSpec assumes that the law is linear. A database of wavelengths of natural  elements is available to help in identifying the lines. Another way of calibrating the profile is to use atmospheric lines contained between 6875 and 7604 angstroms (H-alpha, water, oxygen) which lines are easily recognizable. The user can then carry out various operations of identification or correction like the identification of the lines, modification of the spectral response, calculate the absolute flux, normalizate the profile, correct the continuum, calculate the Planck’s Law and last but not least measure the center of the line, the equivalent width, the full width at half-bandwidth and much more.

Without speaking about its technical performance and very ergonomic interface, Vspec comes with a complete manual of 107 pages, a true cursus about spectroscopy fully illustrated with various samples images, raw and calibrated.

VSpec profile files can be exported in bitmap, ASCII or Excel format. Among the tools available there are an animation function that allows viewing of changes over time of a set of profiles or doing a synthesis of the spectral image for comparison with the original.

Now at version 1.4, VSpec is available for all Windows platforms, in French or English version. The minimum requirement is a 80486 CPU running Windows 95 with 8 MB RAM, an access to the Bight Star Catalog and MS-Excel to export data. The support is however reduced to the strict minimum. It's a pity.

(c) 1994-2000

Manfred Dings, 35 euros

Ephemeris Tools

This tool written by a german amateur creates ephemeris tables Excel-compatible covering a wide range of objects from the Sun and all nine planets to comets, asteroids, artificial satellites and custom objects. This tool computes also variable stars events, Jupiter and Saturn moon events as various celestial phenomena (conjunction, eclipses, opposition, etc). The response time is nearly instantaneous and you can also switch from high-performance methods to high-precision methods without detecting the slightest slowing down. Algorithms use the VSOP-theories for planets, ELP2000 for the moon, NORAD TLP for artifical satellites and various others according the object analysed. 

You can request a numerical integration to compute asteroids and comets parameters and to transform orbital elements into another epoch. Depending of the calculation method used these modes are valid only from 1900 to 2100 or 2200.
Once created, the program can edit or print all tables. It saves data in CSV, XLS 4 or 5 and TXT format. At last you can also save your configuration settings. However I deeply regret there is no possibility to display graphically all these tables, excepting using manually the graphics wizard of Excel; so much numbers give me an indigestion.

Now at version 4.3, this tool runs on Windows 95/98 and was successfully tested on Windows NT 4.0.

(c) 1995, Eric Bergman-Terrell, $15, Shareware

Astronomy Lab

This new version includes much more graphs than the first one running under Windows 3.1. This program displays different menus from report to graphs and movies with an accuracy you will appreciate. All data can be displayed after have entered the time (month/year) in tabular way or using a more ergonomic graphical display. 

The Reports menu includes data on Seasons, dates of Easter, eclipses, planets apsides, conjunctions and oppositions, Moon apsides and nodes, main meteors showers, twilight and more. 

The Graphs menu displays X-Y sinusoids, including main planets parametres (illumination, diameter, magnitude, rise/set, etc), Jupiter moons orbits, the equation of time, analemma, etc. 

The Movies menu is more intuitive including a small planetarium, Jupiter moons, a unusual simulation of binaries stars and more. 

All screens can be printed but data cannot be edited. Now at version 2, the program runs on most Windows 32-bit platforms.

Contact : Eric Bergman-Terrell, Personal MicroCosmos, 8547 E. Arapahoe Road, Suite J-147, Greenwood Village, CO 80112, USA

2000, Sébastien Gauthier



This small but useful program written in French will help you to create a database of all meteors observed during a night with their entry and disapperance points. The program stores your local coordinates, the timestamp of each event and gives you stats. At the end of the session you can save datas in an ASCII log file and use it for example in Excel.

Now at version 1, it runs under DOS or Windows 3.1 with a mouse. It was also successfully tested on Windows 95 and NT 4.0.

1999, S.Takesako


Eclipse Map

An excellent small japanese product dedicated to the Canon of solar eclipses. Displaying the events on simple charts using a single keystrocke you can quickly search for all solar eclipses from any location. Another map displays the relative position of sun and moon over the horizon.from any spot outside the eclipse area.

(c) 1996-98, Dr. Bruce P. Sidell

$20, Shareware


Similar to many other products (Astronomy Lab, AstroMeeus, Calenda, etc) I particulary appreciate its display and tables.

To complete the Moon phases calendar, it lists also the Moon ans Sun rise, transit and set plus some others parameters. The Twilight Time can be selected using the Astronomical, Nautical or Civil one. Some more useful options are also provided on request (illumination, Universal Time, etc).

Contact : Dr. Bruce P. Sidell, 3115 Cascade SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506, USA.

(c) 1989, Willmann-bell, $15


Published by Willmann-Bell in 1989 this product is a software version of the famous book titled "Astronomical Formulae for Calculator" from the Belgian Jean Meeus, world expert in celestial mechanics. His numerous algorithms display tables reports for the Sun, Moon and planets. It can also print a calendar chart with Moon phases.

1998, COAA  Freeware


A small curiosity programmed from an idea by Chris Durman to forecast the best period to observe all Messier objects. The Observe menu of this freeware displays a colorful 2D map showing the number of  Messier Objects visible each day of the year for your latitude. Another table displays the list of Messier Objects you can see a specific night. A first step in preparing the famous Messier marathon (in French).

1996, Henley Quadling


NBody 3D

A high-tech freeware which will amaze you when it will show you the gravitational interactions of N-bodies in three dimensions. Seven demo files are available from the binary system to a crazy model of  2 multiples systems containing 10 bodies in interaction. You can customize the star radius, the angle of view, the central star color and some other parameters like the speed. If your computer uses a Pentium III 500 MHz CPU or higher you can try to improve the 3D rendering too (up to 100 slices and stacks). Hours of fun !

1999, ASSNE



A small but useful tool to easily determine the characteristics of your optical system when using a CCD. The program allow you to enter new scopes and CCD cameras in its database. You first select a configuration, a camera, a scope, the focal used (prime focus or eyepiece projection). Then the program computes the effective pixel size, chip coverage and some other parameters and present a comparison between your CCD coverage and a 35mm film as well as the size of various celestial object according your system specifications.

(c)1999, Steven S.Tuma & Dean Williams, Registered

LX 200 remote control panel (from Deep Sky 2000)

Nothing is more intuitive than using a Planetarium software to aim a telescope with accuracy on stars and planets. This module included in Deep Sky 2000 requires an ACP driver and is preset to drive a LX200 mount and ETX's, ensuring high precision alignements and slow motions. It can also drive a Celestron Nexstar or many other scopes using a generic driver. On request other ACP drivers are available from DC-3 Dreams Software.

This program can be interfaced with Chris Marriott's SkyMap Pro 6 and Sienna Software's Starry Night and even accepts vocal "Goto" functions. The telescope must be connected using a serial RS-232 port to the computer. All commands are driven from this remote control panel.

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