I am probably the last guy in this county to get a cell phone. I live so far out in the stix that the sunlight we get is already a day old. I’m that guy that will be late for his own funeral.
I only very recently acquired a laptop when most kids these days have every electronic gadget known to man. So I am probably very late in discovering a fantastic astronomy program that is available as a FREE download. It’s name is Stellarium.
If you are a backyard astronomer, or just enjoy looking at the night sky, this is a must have program. I have tried a few other well known free astro programs that are also very good, and quite usable, with lots of neat stuff, but Stellarium is just so smooth. What I mean, is when you want the sky to scroll around to another area, the motion isn’t laggy or jumpy, or feels like it is uncoordinated. It is smooooth. The sky is very realistic as well, sharp even, with a very natural feeling color. You can adjust every setting you can think of, to suit your depth of sky knowledge. You can use a plug in to enter your eyepiece and telescope stats, that will show you a field of view that will be just like what your telescope or binoculars will see when you look at an object. This feature alone is an incredible resource for anyone looking for a certain faint object, or identifying something you did not know existed when you are panning around.
I simply cannot imagine another observing session without having Stellarium by my side. Even though I am pretty much a minimalist, which means I try to get everything I need out the door, in 2 trips with no exceptions. This will be worth the 3rd trip, and running an extension cord. And that is about as high a praise I can think of.
Get it, FREE, here: http://www.stellarium.org/ Across the top of the page are links for your system, just click the one that is right for you, and open up a new window into the night sky. Your download will begin. It is only around 80 MB. Don’t even think about it, click the link!
It is Awesome with a capital “A”, and you can’t beat the price.