Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Astro software and whatever hardware

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mikemarotta
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Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 7:04 pm
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
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Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Post by mikemarotta »

To excuse yourself is to accuse yourself. So, I am not a cyberphobe. That said, I have been at this long enough to see generations come and go. I work as a technical writer and I got into that as a programmer when I was on a project and no one wanted to write the user manuals. Having published half a dozen magazine articles, I gave it a try. My last project was documenting sales training for a software developer. Right now, I am writing a textbook on optics and lasers for my local community college's apprenticeship program. We all use science here. Algebra, right ascension, f/ numbers, etc., etc. All of which is to say that I have no patience for making things work against the oversights of the developers.

Right now I have Stellarium installed. It is overly complicated but it works well enough. I do not use it much. I use the Sky & Telescope "sky tonight" webpage here:
https://skyandtelescope.org/interactive-sky-chart/

Recently, I tried to install Celestia and it failed for incompatibility with the latest version of Mac OS.

Sometime back, I tried Cart du Ciel but ran into the same kind of technical barriers. (Maybe I mispronounced something and it was insulted.)

Anyway, everyone is different. Every desktop is different. We approach and solve problems differently. I was just wondering about your successes or failures and what you recommend based on your experience.
Michael E. Marotta
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
Ploessl oculars 40mm to 6mm 2X Barlow
mike49mercury@gmail.com
JohnM
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Re: Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Post by JohnM »

Cartes du Ciel should be easy to install. At least it installs on Linux with no problems and I can't remember any when I installed it on Windows XP & 7 in the past but with modern windows protection mechanisms I have no ideas but the user group is pretty helpful.

You can also install Aladin quite easily as long as you have a working Java installation. The same goes for TopCat to work with catalogue data.

Aladin is interesting as it is a sky atlas rather than a planetarium programme so does not include solar system objects or the Sun. It has no concept of what sky is visible from your location. However Aladin & TopCat can talk to Cartes du Ciel via a protocol called SAMP and can then control your telescope via ASCOM.

One thing I like about Aladin is you can drag & drop catalogues such as the Gaia Transients in CSV format and it will read them, work out the RA & Dec columns and display the catalogue on an image of the sky. Great for looking at the latest transients to see what is of interest.

There is ESA Sky as well no installation needed but gives visual access to lots of data including Hubble & some Chinese data.

An interesting challenge is to install Astrometry.net - the installation is fairly easy but the challenge comes with deciding which index files you need to download as they are pretty large. Essentially what yo need depends on the plate scale of your images and where you are observing from.

Plenty of software out there to keep one busy for weeks.

John
Data Miner & Amateur Astronomer
jeff.stevens
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Re: Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Post by jeff.stevens »

My favourite used to be Redshift, but I no longer have a computer with a CD drive, and I can’t justify buying an external disk drive. I suspect there’s an online download somewhere, so one day I might get around to reinstalling a copy.

Now I tend to use Stellarium the most, as it meets most of my needs. Cartes du Ciel is very good, and I currently have it installed. Sometimes I use Start Night Enthusiast, but the graphics just aren’t up there with Stellarium.

I have Stellarium and Sky Safari installed on my mobile phone. Both of which serve a purpose.

Best wishes, Jeff.
JohnM
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Re: Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Post by JohnM »

Hi Jeff,

You need to be careful with |Redshift - I think the online versions that have had the protection software removed may be contaminated by various viruses. Same as a lot of other 'cracked' software.

Try Aladin - if you are looking for information on objects it is really good but needs an online connection to download images & data and to allow the hyperlinks to the other data services to work.

John
Data Miner & Amateur Astronomer
jeff.stevens
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Re: Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Post by jeff.stevens »

Thanks for the info, John.

Best wishes, Jeff.
mikemarotta
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Re: Softwares for Your (my) Sky Tonight

Post by mikemarotta »

I just uninstalled Stellarium.

I found this site https://theskylive.com The Sky Live, which has a Planetarium tab that looks a lot like Stellarium and it probably an installation of user mods to Stellarium. However, it is much better behaved and responsive.

Mostly, I am back to paper charts and books.
Michael E. Marotta
Explore Scientific 102 mm Refractor
National Geographic 70 mm Refractor
Ploessl oculars 40mm to 6mm 2X Barlow
mike49mercury@gmail.com
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