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Software, what's it all about.......

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Hi all,

New to all this, but eager to learn. Can anyone advise me on what astronomy software packages are worth investment? I've been fooling around with Stellarium, and it seems to be totally awesome, so I'm wondering just how much better the commercial packages can be - I mean, they're just stars, right?:D

Initially I'll just be looking at software to try and learn some constellations, and look for things which are interesting, and obvious enough to find manually with my Skywatcher 130P, but eventually I may want to drive the Goto mount with the software?

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Stellarium is very good. There are a few commercial versions around which do have a few bells and whistles - but I'm not convinced that they are really worth the extra unless you get into imaging...

Heavens-Above Home Page is great for satellite information (Iridium and ISS). There are a number of primers within SGL that are well worth reading.

Also have a look at AstroPedia



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Strange that it is thought the the "best" option is to sit indoors and look at a monitor displaying an idea of the sky.

It may be revolutionary but going outside and looking at what is there is a lot better. One of those ancient things once called a book helps. And they don't need mains, batteries or even recharging, if you drop them they still work afterwards.

Find the Plough. use it to find Polaris, use it to find Leo, use it to find Arcturus. Find Casseiopia, use it to find Pegasus, use it to find M31, use it to find the double cluster.

Go outside!!! Look!!!

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I've just downloaded Stellarium too and I'm loving it. It's confirming so many constellations for me :D

I have the same 'scope as you (well technically I haven't got it yet) but it's ordered and should be here this week sometime :)

How are you getting on with yours? Does it fulfil all of your expectations?

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How funny Sirius, I'm waiting on my Skywatcher to arrive this week too!

B-O-O-K-S????? What's that? Actually I do read a lot, and I am planning on going out into the Norwegian countryside to look at real stars, but as I said in the question, the software is more to get me used to scanning for the constallations.

I'm a firm believer in using technology to enhance, not replace real experiences. By all means post again, but if you'd prefer to send a letter?


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Sorry it was the line that said:

Initially I'll just be looking at software to try and learn some constellations

That stuck out to me.

Just seems that it all ends up pulling up a program on a PC, and there is a big difference when you go out and look.

What is "obvious" on a software package may be anything but obvious when actually stood outside looking up. For a start there are no lines joining up the stars.

Don't have stellarium but I bet that the great square of pagasus is obvious on it, but it isn't when you look for it. In reality it is pretty dim and insignificant.

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I understand what you mean Ronin, and I'm sure you're right. I think that being as clueless as I am just finding a few reference points before going outside will still help me, and a lot of people here are recommending Stellarium, I think partly because it does give accurate relative light density levels.

Happy hunting.

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