Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Best Free Planetarium Software

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
41 replies to this topic

#1 Jim Wayda

Jim Wayda

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 24
  • Joined: 08 Aug 2008

Posted 24 August 2008 - 11:23 PM

In your opinion, what is the best Planetarium Software? I have downloaded Stellarium and am quite impressed with this software. Is there anything better that is free?

Thanks,

-jim

#2 Thomas Pfleger

Thomas Pfleger

    Vendor - Eye&Telescope Software

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 392
  • Joined: 25 Apr 2006

Posted 25 August 2008 - 03:16 AM

Hi Jim,

Stellarium is great for getting an overview of the sky, learning how the cosmic clockwork goes and for presenting the skies to an auditorium. For this purposes, there is hardly something better, neither free nor commercial.

For practical observing, Stellarium IMO has some shortcomings. You cannot print finder charts, for example.

There are two "more practical" free planetarium programs to mention: "Cartes du Ciel" (frequently abbreviated with CdC) and "HNSky". While CdC has the larger feature set, it's not easy to operate and the maps are very cluttered sometimes. I like HNSky better: it's fast, there's all functionality most of us really need, it's easy to learn and operate and the documentation is quite good.

You sooner or later will probably come to the point to realize that spending a moderate amount of money for an elaborated charting software is all but a waste of money. But it can be a terrible waste of time struggling with free software not designed for observers.

Just my opinion, this topic is arguable anyway...

Tom

#3 CaptianX

CaptianX

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 68
  • Joined: 27 Aug 2008

Posted 29 August 2008 - 08:01 AM

If you have access to computers running Linux, try Kstars. It is a nice, simple and fast program. You can even control some telescopes with it, and customize the pointer to various FOV sizes. The view mode can be set to red for night vision, or white background to print a star chart (the default is a black background).

#4 stevecoe

stevecoe

    Astronomical Tourist

  • *****
  • In Memoriam
  • Posts: 5,050
  • Joined: 24 Apr 2004

Posted 29 August 2008 - 04:40 PM

I taught a course in astronomy several years ago and used HNSky as the planetarium program. Several of the students got good with it and it prints excellent charts. It comes with a variety of deep sky data and you can add on more if you are interested in charts for big scopes.

Highly recommended;
Steve Coe

#5 cygnus72

cygnus72

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 482
  • Joined: 13 Jun 2007

Posted 29 August 2008 - 05:50 PM

I came across World Wide Telescope by Microsoft last week, and I think it's not too shabby. Definitely worth the download, although I you might have to install .NET software from Microsoft first.

I love Stellarium, but it doesn't detailed images of deep-sky objects.

#6 Zoomster

Zoomster

    Vendor - Clear Sky Adventures

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1,107
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2005

Posted 30 August 2008 - 09:08 AM

For the observing I do Stellarium is perfect. I use it to controll my CPC1100 as well. If you are going to get really serious with DSOs and such and need to print charts then CDC is your choice, why not download both and have the best of both worlds?

#7 Longlegs

Longlegs

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 7
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2008

Posted 02 September 2008 - 01:58 AM

Jim,for a free planetarium you will not get much better than CNebulaX.Here is a link to it.Cheers Longlegs.
http://www.uv.es/jrtorres/index.html

#8 Coen

Coen

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2008

Posted 02 September 2008 - 07:16 PM

I have had great mileage over a number of years with StarCalc: http://www.m31.spb.r...arCalc/main.htm

#9 Man in a Tub

Man in a Tub

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 16,741
  • Joined: 28 Oct 2008

Posted 07 November 2008 - 05:11 PM

I use 4 free planetarium programs: hnsky, Stellarium, Cartes du Ciel and C2A. Each has its own unique appeal and conveniences. However, I invariably use hnsky when I want to find out more about an open cluster, globular cluster, etc. -- not that the other three programs keep you in the dark -- they don't. For example, in Stellarium you can increase the magnitude of named stars. That's really wonderful it you like to search for carbon stars. They're labeled in red! But hnsky's Deep Sky Help file, which you can make available while running the program, is "out-of-sight."

I also enjoy adding FITS images (scaled down when necessary) to hnsky. A FITS image must use the "World Coordinate System" (WCS) in the file header to be inserted accurately and be visible in hnsky. The ESO and LEDAS Digitized Sky Survey (DSS) browsers have WCS coordinates in their FITS downloads. I've added many IC and NGC cluster images to the program. And that's really great when confirming your observations!

And before I forget to mention it, I also use Virtual Moon Atlas which runs with Cartes du Ciel. It's great. Get it!

#10 CounterWeight

CounterWeight

    Star walker

  • *****
  • Posts: 11,212
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008

Posted 11 November 2008 - 06:53 PM

I agree with others here in that 'the best' can mean different things to different folks. I have been a stellarium fan for a while now, and really as a planetarium program it does all I want it to. I think I have 3 different versions on 3 different computers. It always loaded and ran without any problems whatsoever - no 'gag' when you say Vista!

I recently threw nearly 100 astrobucks at The Sky (serious edition) and immediately had a bit of buyers remorse. My hope was to ascom it, my scope, scope controller, and imaging/autoguiding software, all on my gateway latop. We'll see how it goes - but then Cart de Cieling just got loaded...

I'd downloaded CdC (is that the correct abbrev?) on my 'powerhouse' computer and was pretty impressed, but I'm just getting used to it and so feel unqualified to comment.

I do love stellarium as a free planetarium program, in all the flavors I have running...

#11 StarWars

StarWars

    Mr. Postmaster Man

  • *****
  • Posts: 33,547
  • Joined: 26 Nov 2003

Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:57 PM

Here ya go... :bow:


Astronomy Software


(I like AstroPlanner and Best pair) :grin:


:imawake:

#12 ischua

ischua

    Under the Radar

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,729
  • Joined: 17 Jul 2008

Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:03 PM

Not realy Planetarium software but a nice Planet software tour the moon in 3D and "fly" over the moonscape

http://worldwind.arc....gov/index.html

#13 jedimasterk

jedimasterk

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 297
  • Joined: 30 Jan 2006

Posted 30 November 2008 - 04:51 AM

Celestia!.

#14 rmollise

rmollise

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 23,516
  • Joined: 06 Jul 2007

Posted 30 November 2008 - 03:08 PM

Celestia!.


Celestia is fun to play around with, but it's not my idea of a planetarium, and I don't find it very useful for observing and planning. Great for use with students, though.

#15 rmollise

rmollise

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 23,516
  • Joined: 06 Jul 2007

Posted 30 November 2008 - 03:10 PM

In your opinion, what is the best Planetarium Software? I have downloaded Stellarium and am quite impressed with this software. Is there anything better that is free?

Thanks,

-jim


All round? Cartes du Ciel. Still. :lol:

http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/index.php

#16 Senpai

Senpai

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 124
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posted 30 November 2008 - 05:18 PM

I prefer C2A and russian StarCalc (http://www.relex.ru/~zalex/). StarCalc has open plugin API and very usefull collection of third party plugins (excelent GCVS variable stars plugin, satellite tracker plugin, DSO outlines, and other)...

Some plugins not represented on the official website:
GCVS 1.2 variablestar catalog: http://www.heavensat.ru/gcvs1.2.zip
Satellites 1.6 satellite tracker http://www.heavensat...tellites1.6.zip
Horizon 1.1 custom horizon plugin http://www.heavensat.ru/Horizon1.1.zip
Meteor 1.0 meteor showers plugin http://www.heavensat.ru/meteor1.0.zip
DSO outlines plugin: http://www.eproject....so_outlines.rar
Custom finder plugin http://www.heavensat.ru/finder0.95.zip

Attached Thumbnails

  • 2778659-starcalc2.gif


#17 Coen

Coen

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2008

Posted 30 November 2008 - 08:02 PM

I have been using StarCalc for some time and find it easy to use etc. Also find myself coming back to it even with other packages installed as it compliments them.

Thanks Senpai for the plugins, unfortunately I do not have the Russian(?) alphabet/font-set installed and even if I did I would not be able to read it. Is there an English version or some way to readily translate?

Regards

#18 Senpai

Senpai

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 124
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posted 01 December 2008 - 03:23 AM

I'll ask the developers about translation.
May be, I'l try to translate with the Resource hacker.

There is no special setup options for DSO outlines and Meteor showers plugins.
All You need is to extract the archive in the new folder of the Plugins folder of the Starcalc setup directory.


#19 Coen

Coen

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2008

Posted 01 December 2008 - 05:31 PM

Thanks.

#20 Joe Lalumia

Joe Lalumia

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,133
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2007

Posted 01 December 2008 - 08:23 PM

Just installed StarCalc--- have not tested it yet with the telescope control. I like it!

#21 Coen

Coen

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 45
  • Joined: 11 Aug 2008

Posted 02 December 2008 - 07:34 PM

While I remember and sorry if this takes the thread off on a tangent more than it should...

Senpai, you mention contacting the developers so you might like to pass the following on:

StarCalc v5.73 has a bug/feature in it when reading in the asteriod data file that can be downloaded from the indicated skymap.com web site. Namely it will not load all the asteriods in and gracefully stops when it reaches an asteriod that has data whose numbers are no longer separated by a set of white-space in the text file. For example a data line such as:
1 Ceres 2007 10 27.0 258.7508 2.766527 0.079610 73.0424 80.4068 10.5867 3.34 0.12
reads in fine, however a data line that has:
1 Ceres 2007 10 27.0 258.7508112.766527 0.079610 73.0424 80.4068 10.5867 3.34 0.12
Does not (added an extra 11 to the beginning of the 7th column merging it to the 6th).

I am assuming this is associated with the expectation of reading in entries based on white-space separated data versus a fixed-width data expectation approach.
Deleting the offending entry means the file continues to read up until the next occasion.

It could also be that I am screwing up :)

Regards

#22 Edward E

Edward E

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,450
  • Joined: 26 Mar 2006

Posted 04 December 2008 - 04:32 PM

Jim, after reading your comments on Stellarium I downloaded the latest (Beta) version. You are right, it is very impressive! I looked at this app some years ago but found it slow to load up, slow to operate and the controls were not intuitive even after reading the manual. This current version is very nice, once I got past the part where Stellarium locked my computer up (took three tries before it ran properly). Not sure if I will place it on my laptop with my other astro apps. Stellarium is very graphic card intensive.

#23 Senpai

Senpai

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 124
  • Joined: 20 Oct 2006

Posted 05 December 2008 - 03:06 PM

Thanks! I've asked the developer of plugins about translation. He said - "no problems!". Let's wait couple of days.
I'll connect with Alexander Zavalishin, the Author of StarCalc, to tell him about the bug.

#24 rmollise

rmollise

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 23,516
  • Joined: 06 Jul 2007

Posted 06 December 2008 - 09:33 AM

Thanks! I've asked the developer of plugins about translation. He said - "no problems!". Let's wait couple of days.
I'll connect with Alexander Zavalishin, the Author of StarCalc, to tell him about the bug.


While you are at it, why not mention to ol' Alex that he needs to provide go-to facilities for his otherwise wonderful program. If he just implemented an ASCOM interface, his program would be a LOT of folks favorite.

#25 Edward E

Edward E

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,450
  • Joined: 26 Mar 2006

Posted 06 December 2008 - 11:13 AM

Uncle Rod, Are you in Alabama or Gerogia? I am a Tennessee/Georgia transplant in Arizona. Love your Blog post!


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics