Saturday, December 03, 2011

planetarium software interest

Kersti triggered a conversation in the RASC Toronto Centre Yahoo!Group regarding planetarium software. It was innocent enough. She wanted to know the differences between Stellarium and Starry Night. And things turned rather lively.

I immediately posted that without direct SN experience I could not offer direct comparisons but my impression was that Starry Night, a commercial offering, was quite powerful. Then I listed a bunch of features not present in Stellarium, such as field of view rotation or alternate star chart sources.

Mr Mortfield jumped in, flag-waving for Software Bisque's TheSky. Indeed, another commercial product, it was very good at imaging planning, with its good handling of field of view simulations.

This reminded me that there are some major players out there, including Cartes du Ciel, Earth Centred Universe, Red Shift, that others might be using, but that I had not seen directly compared anywhere. I put it to our members to keep an eye out. And after sending that message, I suddenly remembered kStars on the Linux platform. I had tried it on my Ubuntu machine.

Mortfield also pointed out that mobile market is getting interesting, with apps being specifically built for smartphones, some of which offer telescope control. Good point.

Katrina joined in the conversation and shared a link she'd found. The author had written reviews of a number of software applications. While old, there's lots of details. A great referral. But I'm still thinking a table or grid will be useful. She also alluded to liking SN as it is Macintosh compatible.

Then Allard chimed in, sharing that he likes Starmap HD for his iPad, and that he's using his iPad software more than his desktop tools.

This is clearly a hot topic for our members!

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