Saturday, April 01, 2006

Astroplanner Software

Over the last few months, I have been using some free astronomy software called "Astroplanner". I really like it, and highly recommend it to folks who are hunting around for some nifty software. It's really designed for the Macintosh, but works just fone on PCs.

The main features that I do enjoy using are:

1. Creation of observing lists: You can spend the day prior to your observing session generating a detailed list of items of interest that you want to view that night. The list will gives you the best times to look at each object, and you can save it for use later. You don't need to take a laptop with you as the list can be printed in a very organized fashion.

2. Field of View Option: You can edit your astronomical resources in the software itself, meaning that you can add telescopes and eyepieces, just by entering in their specifications. Then, when you see an object on your list that you want to observe, the Field of View option allows you to mix and combine telescopes and eyepieces to replicate an actual view of wha you will see. I love this option, as you can plug in details for accessories that you would like to have to determine just what sort of view they will give you through your scope. Very handy!

3. You can download lists that other users have created. For example, some folks have created lists for specific telescopes, like my LX200. The nice thing about this is that they tell you which keys to enter to select the object on the list from your telescope's database.

4. It has telescope control for most goto scopes. The beauty of this is that when it is in control of your scope, the list you generate will alert you when objects are at their peak viewing time, and will guide your scope to the object if you so desire!

5. It's free, yippee!

A fine piece of astronomical software, I think. You can get a free copy here.

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