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How is Megastar these days?

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#1 Michael Rapp

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 01:02 PM

Now that I've gotten back into visual astronomy after a long-absence and engaging in some long over-due nostalgia, I'm surprised and somewhat delighted to see MegaStar still in fairly heavy use.

Oddly enough, I've never owned a copy myself even though the author was a member of my club! (And Emil lived just a few blocks from my parents' house in which I lived at the time. I'd see him at the bank often. I hope he is doing well these days.) But, in the late 1990s, $130 was a lot of money that I didn't have in college.

Still, all of the serious/heavy observers I knew, Megastar was the atlas of choice, and still seems to be.

What is it about Megastar that has given it such staying power, especially since development seems to have ceased since it was sold to Wilmann-Bell?

Is it the accurate nebular depictions? I remember that being one of the big deals of the program.
:question:

#2 rmollise

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:28 PM

Well, with a little fiddling, you can get it to run on Win 7 64bit. The thumbnail images don't work completely right, but mostly it is OK. The thing is...if somebody would update/develop it again, it could be at the top of the heap again, but I doubt that will ever happen. Emil is not involved with it anymore as far as I know, and Wilman Bell says they can't afford to do anything with it.

Shame, cause in many ways it is still great, if not near the top of the heap like it used to be. :(

#3 Tom Polakis

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:39 PM

Now that I've gotten back into visual astronomy after a long-absence and engaging in some long over-due nostalgia, I'm surprised and somewhat delighted to see MegaStar still in fairly heavy use.

.
.
.

What is it about Megastar that has given it such staying power, especially since development seems to have ceased since it was sold to Wilmann-Bell?

Is it the accurate nebular depictions? I remember that being one of the big deals of the program.



Michael,

Although it is used extensively elsewhere as well, I think your location in Texas may be a factor. I know that there have been products made here in Arizona that have a lot of local customer loyalty.

I've been using Megastar on a laptop in the field almost exclusively for the past dozen years. In its earliest days, it was well out in front of any charting programs. I vividly remember having Emil show it to me at the 1992 TSP, when the Guide Star Catalog was on 40 floppy discs! As it developed, Emil was being coached by all the right deep-sky people, and made the correct decisions involving catalogs to use. Other programs were still using such abominations as [shudder] the RNGC.

I think that many pieces of software have caught and passed Megastar since then on many levels. And as you note, it is anything but supported. I just continue to use it out of habit more than anything. I also love the simple one-key interface. Locate an object with L, set a field size with M or Z, turn stars on or off with R, etc. That's a welcome feature when you're wearing gloves. Filters, catalog selection, and magnitude limits are intelligently designed as well. Other software packages do astronomy tasks much better than Megastar, but it's hard to find a better deep-sky charting workhorse.

Now I'm going off topic, but what I don't like anymore is dragging out a laptop and a deep-cycle battery. Hence the parallel thread that I began regarding SkySafari on an iPad. It's almost up there with Megastar for field usability, and I look forward to upgrading as it continues to evolve.

Tom

#4 Tom Polakis

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:48 PM

Well, with a little fiddling, you can get it to run on Win 7 64bit. The thumbnail images don't work completely right, but mostly it is OK.



Rod,

I failed to mention this to the OP. I just went through this, and it works OK, but it won't save my settings. I just put the entire Megastar directory in C:, and then I run the executable from there. So I never did install it properly. I don't need it to show images, but I would like it to save the settings rather than always reverting to the default. How did you install it on Win 7 64-bit OS? Thanks.

Tom

#5 Chucke

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 04:17 PM

I installed Megastar on my W7 64-bit machine the same way Tom did. I just copied the entire Megastar directory from my old XP machine and made a shortcut to the .exe. I don't have the thumbnails working but I haven't really made a serious effort to get them working.

I originally tried to do run the install but it failed for some reason that I don't remember. I then tried the copy and it worked fine.
Chuck

#6 SpaceOtter

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 04:17 PM

Speaking of Megastar, there's an update, believe it or not, dated October 2nd on the program's support page.

Megastar update

#7 rmollise

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:37 PM

Tom:

The install will not work no matter what you do. What you have done is the only way to get it to run on Win 7 64. Frankly, I had not noticed that my settings of any sort were not saved, but it would not surprise me, since a proper install can't be done... :(

I loved and used Megastar more thann any other program. But...today I have SkyTools 3. Sometimes it is best to just let go and move on, I reckon.

#8 rmollise

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:39 PM

Speaking of Megastar, there's an update, believe it or not, dated October 2nd on the program's support page.

Megastar update


Hmm...interesting. Have you downloaded it?

#9 obrazell

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:55 AM

Yes - it does not seem to add anything. I am surprised about the not saving as even though I have copied the installation to my newever machines I find it saves the last postions and settinsg just fine.

Owen

#10 Alvin Huey

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:55 AM

I still use it along with the 102 disk DSS overlay on my 9 year old Sony "netbook". Nothing more is needed. Jimi still uses his for his 48".

#11 ozprof

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:20 PM

I still have version 4 which I use sometimes with my older XP machine.

I never updated to version 5 after being verbally abused by the owners of Willmann-Bell at a conference one time. I had been having a problem with version 4 and just asked them how to get around the problem. He then lambasted me for several minutes for not having already purchased version 5. Needless to say I have never dealt with Willmann-Bell since.

These days I use "The Sky" though in many ways I preferred MegaStar.

#12 Tom Polakis

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 05:48 PM

Thought I'd bump this month-old thread to point out that somebody on the Megastar Yahoo group reported that registered users may buy a "replacement CD" of Megastar for $10 shipped. I received mine a few days after ordering it, installed it, and now Megastar works exactly as intended on my Windows 7 64-bit laptop. Life is good!

Tom






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