- CALCULATORS - IMAGING
Universe - TheSky - Starry Night Pro -
Night Enthusiast - The Guide
Pro - SkyCharts / Cartes du ciel
Hallo Northern Sky - ExInEd
- Virtual Moon Atlas - Dance
of the Planets - PRiSM
- Deep Sky 2000
Centaure - The Earth Centered
Propagation programs - Ham, DSP and satellite tracking software
(c) 2003, $200
application has to be installed on a fast computer using a great amount of memory (at
least 1 GHz CPU and 500 MB RAM minimum).
The menu is rich of
tens of icons to access rapidly to all main
functions. Clicking on any object with the mouse, contextual data can be
other planetarium programs, once loaded the starry field looks really unusual.
Instead of displaying a schematic map of the sky, the screen is now replaced
with a realist photomosaic of the Milky Way as you could see one
on high-resolution color photographs. Images were recorded with an Apogee
AP9e CCD at a resolution of 12 arcseconds per pixel or 90000 pixels per
square degree, an excellent resolution that not all advanced
astrophotographers can reach. The brightness of the image can be adjusted,
like if you changed your screen luminance with the control button to enhance the
appearance of nebulae in the background.
in consideration the whole sky, DU is able to display 10 millions stars to
magnitude 14 and about 1 million DSOs from the PGC catalog including all
Messier and Dreyer (NGC) objects, quasi on par with its competitor.
Version 1.52 includes astero´ds and comets catalogs but artificial
satellites are not considered yet.
on various celestial objects, from the 180░ to 0.5░ wide, at some steps
one see the limitations of the product (stars become fuzzy) but most
images display an excellent resolution. The narrowest view shows the elliptic shape of most galaxies and planetaries phases. The
Moon is also displayed with a good rendering thanks to Clementine data. But here also the
realism is perfectible.
program will surely also interest the casual observer fan of beautiful pictures
of the sky and the younger who does not make yet the difference between a
galaxy and a nebula, between a globular and an open cluster or between
an emission and a reflection nebula. Up to now no other software reaches
this image quality. DU displays all DSOs larger than 5 to 10 arc-minutes in true color with detailed
outlines conforming to their shape, which positions were
refined by Harold
Corwin of the NGC/IC Project
using the Digitized
Sky Survey. Optionaly you can print these layouts in high
also able to drive any ASCOM compliant telescope (all GOTOs) easier and
seems more robust than its competitors. It is integrated with Diffraction
Limited's MaxIm DL imaging processing software, MaxPoint telescope
pointing software and is compatible with Astronomer's
Control Panel automation and Internet observing software.
Universe is now at version 1.52. It requests a fast computer, the
"smallest" configuration being a 1 GHz CPU with 256 MB
RAM, 1 GB of free disk space, and SVGA or higher display. It runs of all
32-bit platforms. Due to its size the program cannot
be downloaded but demos are available. It is supplied on two CD-ROMs. The program does not run on
Mac OS, except under SoftWindows and Virtual PC at a lower speed.
give it four stars only due to its hardware requirement, and in
waiting the inclusion of new catalogs, a greater zoom and a better
program is no more available.
released in 1992 by Thomas M.Bisque, with time this famous program became a
reference product, on par with Starry Night Pro and a few others. As its challengers, the
latest version, TheSky6 Pro Edition, includes all you think about to prepare a serious observation
session, visually or driving automatically your scope at a key depress.
latest release includes Hipparcos and Tycho stellar databases
including b-v indexes, the 19 millions objects from the Hubble
Guide Star Catalog to magnitude 15, the 73,197 galaxies from the
Catalog of Principal Galaxies (PGC) which shows their minor and
major axis and orientation plus all NGC/IC and Messier objects and at last 13,000 thumbnail
pictures. Of course it can load external catalogs on CD-ROM as
the USNO A2.0 database with 526,280,881 supplementary stars or
its equivalent on the web in the case of
the millions objects displayed should not be enough !
side, the stars are optionally displayed in color for those stars that contain
the spectral information, the brightness and the intensity of the
colors for the spectral types are also user definable. The stars
plotted magnitudes are scaled according to the zoom level. The daytime sky mode is pleasant to view, the moon
phase calendar and its appearance have been improved too as the object information dialog box, the
Dreyer descriptions for all NGC and IC objects, the astronomy tutorial, to
name a few.
but not least, on robotic side the program is able to drive any telescope
including the Nexstar5 with Autostar and offers the ability to display the
field of view of the ST-4X guiding CCD detector as many finders.
Pro version adds $150 extra over the Advanced version because it can be
interfaced with other Bisque programs like CCDSoft
(whereas Advanced version does work with Tpoint) providing automated scripting, astrometry
measurements, telescope pointing analysis and till more, and it comes with
many additional databases not included in the Advanced version. As
its competitors, update files can be download from the publisher
to the previous version 5 (two last screen dumps), TheSky6 (two upper screendumps)
is a major improvement, displaying the starry night with
still more realistics images, approaching the one of Desktop
Universe. All settings can be configured to suit to your needs (star
color, diameter, foreground, lines, labels, colors, etc).
is only available for PC but in several versions : Student, Serious
Astronomer and Professional editions. It is available in English while a german version 6 is
available to Intercon
latest version TheSky Pro 6 runs on all 32-bit platforms, and requires a
500 MHz (1 GHz recommended) or faster processor, a minimum of 256 MB of RAM,
between 200 MB to 3 GB of disk space, and a 1024x768 pixels monitor.
at version TheSky X Professional has been redesigned from the ground up,
and includes numbers of new exciting features (Eclipse Viewer, Conjunction
Finder, 3D Solar System View, Field of View indicators (FOVIs), etc)
Bisque provides support
to customers via their Community forum and their Knowledge base.
Unfortunately, if you don't find any answer online, they will ask you $100
per incident, 30 to 50 % of the product price ! It is the first time
that I see a company providing software to amateurs that charges for their
support. This price is not justified and prohibitive !
warmly recommend you this program, not only for its graphical performances to render the sky,
celestial objects and the horizon in a realistic way (it can edit the horizon to add
trees and create hills or load a picture) but mainly because this is a huge package including all
options an advanced amateur astronomer is in right to wait for.
said Sienna this is for serious astronomy... but funny one too. It comes
with the complete Hipparcos/Tycho stellar database and its 16 millions stars
with b-v indexes, over 19 million
objects from the Hubble Guide Star Catalog to magnitude 15 and includes
the 73,197 galaxies from the Catalog of Principal Galaxies (PGC) which
shows their minor and major axis and orientation, Tully database with its
3D positions of 28,000 galaxies, and of course last but
not least all NGC/IC and Messier objects. To
complete these options a custom image layer help you
to add external CCD images or digitized photographs.
also fix the limit magnitude for each catalog separately and easily select any object to determine its rise, transit and set
times, magnitude and position in several coordinates systems.
Night Pro is also an educational tool requiring QuickTime to display multimedia features as movies of
sky animations, planets flybys, liftoff's and more. Among its
most amazing tools you may quit the solar system and observe the nearby stars
in 3D, travel anywhere in the universe up to 700 millions
light-years, display dynamic Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams,
create alien planets with customizable surfaces details and satellites,
add custom horizon panoramas, edit orbits
to add or modify planetaries objets.
you like historical simulations, you can go 99,999 years in the past or in
the future, speeding up or slowing down time.
Internet links are everywhere present; connecting to LiveSky
you can for example display information about planets, stars or constellations or
download DSO pictures connecting to the Digitized
Sky Survey database.
Starry Night Pro is able to create artificial satellites
reading their 2 line elements (Keplerian elements) or to track
them. In the same way it is able to track comets and asteroids.
last the program is able ASCOM compliant and able to drive any
telescope but its controller looks to light and display weakness
to consider it as a serious tool. On-line support is fast and update
release can be downloaded from the publisher
Night is available for Mac and PC computers and runs on all 32-bit
platforms. It is available in two versions, Pro and Pro Plus.
to Siennasoft, the Starry Night Pro
6 version requires a 500 MHz or faster processor, 128 MB RAM and 2 GB
of hard disk space. But in the field, we noted that Starry Night Pro 6
didn't run on a 566 MHz PC as it was unable to find in the video card the
features that it wanted. Version Starry Night Pro Plus 6, the most complete,
requires a 800 MHz or faster processor, 256 MB RAM (512 MB recommended) and 5 GB (11 GB needed
for full install) of hard disk space. For both versions, a fast video
board is required as OpenGL support requires a 64 MB (128
MB recommended) OpenGL 1.4 capable graphics card (OpenGL 2.0 is required
for features like shaded sky, animated grass and fast AllSky rendering at
wide FOV). Minimum recommended monitor resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.
DVD-ROM drive required for installation.
contrary to its main competitor, all users and prospects can
question their support
team free of charge.
package is voluntary lighter than the Pro version. It replaces the old
"Starry Night Backyard" version and comes with a totally
redesigned GUI much more attracting and faster.
version is created for the casual observer or the one who doesn't use a
telescope with tracking capabilities. It takes advantage of the same
engine that the Pro version, the same intuitive interface with multimedia features that
require QuickTime. It is able to display a variable sky brightening
including light pollution and details in the Milky way.
version gathers all you need to learn astronomy. All the planets and most
moons are displayed with high resolution surface rendering and you have
the ability to add new objects (comets, asteroids, moons, planets and even
satellites) using the built-in orbit editor or to change surface map of
the Pro version, this version is able to manage artificial satellites
reading their 2 line elements (Keplerian elements).
constraints, this light version has at its disposal a reduced number of
stellar and deep sky objects : 2.5 million stellar objects and 40,000 DSO.
You are also limited in travel in time between - 4713 and +9999 and you
cannot select a custom horizon panorama.
to the previous Backyard version, this new version has built-in background
landscapes. It can print advanced sky charts showing deep
star fields and DSO. The Enthusiast can link out to LiveSky for the most
up-to-date information about them. Here also all
update release notes can be downloaded from the publisher
Night Enthusiast is now at version 6.0 and runs on all Windows 32-bit (it
was designed for XP first) and MacOS platforms using a 500 MHz or faster processor, 128 MB RAM and 900 MB of hard disk space.
On slow computers the OpenGL will not initiate and some optional features
will not be displayed on screen
trial version is available from Starry
Night Store. A trial version of "Starry Night Backyard" is available from
news, all users and prospects can question their support
team for free.
low-cost desktop planetarium program is an excellent software, a true
challenger for its competitors.
Guide is able to display a view of the sky full customizable, including
the horizon and objects fixed on it. You can also fix the limit magnitude for each catalog
separately and generate charts from 180░ to 2 arcminutes wide. Among the
most amazing catalog available, the Guide reads
the RealSky CD's or the Digitized
for DSO and the Clementine Moon database providing stunning high resolution pictures
of lunar formations (CD-ROM Vol.15 from NSSDC provides a resolution up to
0.5 km/pixel, CD's 1-14 up to 100m/pixel).
addition you can switch between the default display mode showing the north
at the top and west at the right to an inverted view similar to the one
you see once the eye at the eyepiece.
accuracy of the Guide is similar to other quality products, computing for
example planetaries positions to about 0.01" using the VSOP and
PS1996 theories. In the same way, it computes the Moon position using the
ELP theory and Lieske's E2x3 theory for the satellites of Jupiter. In its
details, the Guide displays the shadow cast by satellites on their planet,
isophotes of nebula, eclipse path, stars occultations by asteroids and
other transits in full details. Regularly
updated, upgrades can be downloaded from the
Guide is now at version 9 and runs on all Windows and Mac OS/X platforms
A. Marriott, $99
my humble opinion, this program has been at
a few steps to become a reference if its realism and refresh should have been
better. In an unrealistic way if you zoom in for example to approach of your
target sometimes no more stars and objects appear. Or if you zoom out
fainter stars continue to be visible. You have to add or suppress dim stars
manually by clicking a button. Stars are all white displaying a large
white surface without much differentiation of their brightness. Positive
side, clicking on any star or object Skymap Pro displays information like
its magnitude, size, some astrometric and photometric data plus some
catalog references. A barred filled dot symbolises multiple stars and a
barred empty dot the variables.
this curious way to display stars Skymap Pro is really complete up to include a
remote telescope controller called Autotrack (not tested).
planetarium screen is ergonomic, the left and upper task bars displaying
icons to quickly access to various functions. The display is customizable,
from the colors of all components to the inclusion or not of various grids
Pro display ephemerides between 4000BC and 8000AD. It accesses to various external catalogs listing multiples stars, asteroids, comets and DSO,
locally stored on CD-ROM's (stellar databases or images, including in FITS
format) or from external sources like the DSS
Planning and Tools menus are short but will help you to find the moon
phase, calculate the canon of eclipses,
daily events and edit an observation log. Among the tools available the
Search menu allows you to quick find any celestial objet knowing its name,
not necessary the constellation, its bayer letter or its propre name.
Among the objects to insert you can project the true field of
your best finder (Telrad) or eyepiece on the celestial sphere. You can
also insert text, line, circle or even a camera frame but their size has
to be fixed before displaying.
Pro can read Two Line Elements files (TLE) to display trajectories of artificial
satellites in front of the starry night (do
not confuse with SkyMap 6.4 from Rod Matson dedicated to satellites
of bugs from the previous release came from the video driver, the new
version solved those problems. Skymap Pro is now at version 8.0 and runs fine at the resolution of 1024x768 pixels
and 64k colors on Windows 95/98/ME/NT 4 or 2000 but requests only a
133 MHz Pentium, a SVGA display and 32 MB RAM.
third screen dump was extracted from the release 6 for comparison purposes.
- Cartes du ciel
is the first swiss product I know written in french but able to easily switch to...
20 other languages including Catalan ! An excellent job from Patrick
du ciel - is easy to use and quite complete. Its
advantage is to be colorful, displaying true color of stars and objects.
Stars brightness and aspect can be customized.
The menu is ergonomic displaying a serie of icons on the upper and left
side of the screen to access functions. By clicking any object the program
displays a short or an extended legend (its name, type, magnitude, size,
b-v index, etc). You can easily find an object by its name, its
coordinates or pointing quickly an area on a star chart.
includes various catalogs compiled in short versions for convenience and
use by default the 9096 stars up to mag 6.5 from the Bright Star Catalog, Sky2000 Master, NGC
objects and 10000 nebulae from SAC 7.2. It lists
107 comets, 40 asteroids and can manage the General variable stars catalog and
the Washington Double star catalog too. You can also access external
databases on CD's or on the Internet like Tycho, GSC, USNO-A, Lynds, 3C, PGC,
RealSky, ESO Skycat DSS2, Lowell Comet and Astorb catalogs, etc. The
latest release includes the location of Iridium flashes and of course the
trajectories of hundreds of artificials satellites.
on-line help explain the reasons of selecting such or such catalog and
provide links too as for example to HEARSARC
SkyView to dowload a sky image corresponding to the current chart. A
similar option is available to display galaxies, loading their images from
CD's (DSS or IRAS) or the Internet in order to merge them in the current
rendering of galaxies surface is pleasant. Better than simply displaying
an empty shape, SkyCharts uses the Third Reference Catalog of Bright
Galaxies to displays an orange-yellow to greyscale surface according the
brightness of the DSO and its nucleus.
Chart is able to display proper motion of stars in 9999 years and display
the sky until year 3000. You can save your configuration, print charts or
merge images of various format on your sky charts too.
last it includes a plug-in for Meade telescopes. The interface can
be used with LX200, Autostar, Magellan I/II and other systems using the
to all these options and the fact it is a freeware, I give it one more
star that what I expected from this program. SkyCharts is now at version
2.71 and runs on Windows 32-bit but not as fast as its competitors. A
complete html help file is provided.
Han Kleijn, Freeware
Hallo Northern Sky
appreciate first this software for its ergonomy, the ease to change
parameters and for the display of the target parameters in the upper left of the screen.
Positive side while you zoom in more faint stars appear, not always well
differenciated, but this is a performance to highlight as it is not always
programmed in freeware products. At any moment you can bolden the star
appearance and reduce or extend the limit magnitude. Couterpoint when zoom
out, all faint stars continue to be displayed, whitening your screen. You
have to reset the limit magnitude to get a more realistic sky.
are listed not as empty shapes but are filled, presenting a grey surface a
bit similar to the Catalog of Principal Galaxies to simulate their
appearance at the eyepiece; an excellent initiative usually available on
high-end products and loading expensives CD's.
than other freeware, Hallo provides a Search tool to find planets or their
satellites, stars, constellations, DSO (Messier, IC and NGC) but also a
hundred comets and so many asteroids. As for many small programs, 433 Eros
although of magnitude 12 is not listed. The zoom is also powerful. You
select an area with a right-clic of the mouse to center it and you zoom by
clicking on the IN or OUT menu. Double stars have not been forgotten and
the double-double epsilon Lyrae-1 appears well when the true field
decreases below around 18' and magnitude below 8.
also two very useful tools. First the fact you can move around the sky
using the arrows. Even displaying all objects the refresh is very fast.
The second tool is the accelerated motion which is available using F-keys.
Very useful to find a conjunction or the accurate position of an asteroid
for example among stars.
is now at version 2.04 and runs fine on Windows 32-bit platforms in high resolution, better than some high-end products.
are educational electronic publications produced by a dedicated team of the
Special Studies Office at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Their objective is to increase the educational value of space
available cover all kind of subjects, from the space exploration
(Apollo11, Magellan-Venus, Mars,...) to Earth study (Hawaiian
volcanism, teledetection,...) or deal with pure astrophysical
matters (Cepheids, results of GHRS, etc).
installing a WinPlus runtime to read Stack files (.STA).
runs on Windows and MacOS platforms.
NOTE: Due to the JPEG compression, colors of screen dumps are poorly rendered and
do not pay tribute to the work of their authors...
reviews are also available on the following websites :
& TELESCOPE - STELLARIUM
to Reports & Reviews