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Just found googles latest venture (interactive zoomable map of 100,000 stars in our Galaxy, With current estimates of 200,000,000,000+ stars in the Galaxy there is still some way to go, but does demonstrate the scale of our somewhat unremarkable/insignificant backwater of the universe! http://workshop.chromeexperiments.com/stars/
For years I've been a loyal user of Stellarium, it's very simple to use and provides me with most of what I need. I would unreservedly recommend it as an essential tool to anyone starting out in astronomy. The great folks behind it are very active and continually working on improvements and new features. But there are several other free planetarium programs including Cartes du Ciel and C2A and a few more. I discovered C2A a few days ago, and it has some interesting features, especially for observation planning. There a pop-ups to show when an object will be visible, a graphic of Moon phases etc. and a built-in log book facility. You can also add a very wide range of object catalogues. So, what are people using? And what are the pros and cons of different programs?
I took advantage of the FSO offer of the Opticron 10X50s for £99, they should arrive tomorrow. I can't wait to start using them! My old pair of 10x50s got knocked out of line a while ago, and I've been using some little rubbish Argos things that are about as much use as looking down a toilet roll tube. I noticed in the Sky at Night magazine, Steven Tonkins does a 'binocular tour' every month. I don't subscribe, (I've always bought Astronomy Now), but I think I may start getting Sky at Night regularly, because his binocular sky maps are pretty fantastic. Cassiopeia is in this month, and there's quite a few objects in there I've put on my 'next clear sky' list. I've ordered a copy of his book on the strength of these charts. Does anyone have it? Does it have maps comparable to the ones in Sky at Night? I've searched my old magazine pile for back-issues of the Sky at Night, and I've found a couple more. Gemini and Cygnus. What maps do you guys use when you're binocular observing?