Best astronomy software?

Best astronomy software?

Postby pdouvry » Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:52 pm

I'm interested in investing in an astronomy software program but there are a lot of candidates to choose from. Starry Nights (skeleton version) came with my dob, so upgrading that is an option. A lot of club members seem to be high on SkyTools. I have Sky Safari on my iPad but would like a more robust program that I can run on my laptop. Recommendations?

I also noticed that SkyTools offers quantity discounts to clubs like ours. Do we have discounted software available to members?
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby joe-khalaf » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:46 pm

I've used Starry Night Pro for a couple of years now. It's great as a planetarium software package. As I'm getting more into observing lists and wanting to plan my observing sessions, I'm goingto take a look at SkyTools. I believe the club made a group purchase and got a discount for those who participated a few years ago. I'd be curious to know if we're going to do something like that again.
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby john-haynes » Tue Jan 14, 2014 7:28 am

I use TheSky6 and SkyTools. Sky Tools has excellent logging and planning options. The pro edition that I have also has telescope control and photography planning. The information box on objects is extremely helpful. Its charts are pretty good, and some of the viewing options (such as a 3-way split-screen showing naked eye, finder scope, and eyepiece views is very useful.

For telescope control and charting, however, I prefer TheSky. I like the interface better. For me, though probably not for everyone, I find it more intuitive.

Neither are cheap. But with a club sponsored group buy (which I think we're looking at again soon), Sky Tools is about 50% off (if we can get enough participants). That's a good deal. I've never heard of Software Bisque (makers of TheSky) doing a club discount, but who knows.

There are other options. Before I got either of the above programs, I used the freebie software Meade offers. It's not great, but not bad. There's also Cartes du Ciel, an open-source French program (translated into English, not to worry) that is supposed to be pretty good, though I've never used it.

There's other options out there. I'm sure other people have opinions, these are just mine.
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby chuck-hale » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:30 pm

I like Skymap Pro have been using it since about 1999 they were at TSP that year. they came back to TSP a few years ago so I
upgraded to the latest version. I also use Sky tools.
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby rodger-jones » Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:42 pm

I know I am in the minority but I like Stellarium.
I am trying to be as thrifty as possible and it is free.
I connect it with my mount and just double click on what I want to see.
Since it is a planetarium like software, it can also help you figure out where things are.
you can easily overlay constellations, simulate EPs, and automagically update Asteroid, comet and NEO data.

For planning I have been using several online sites and saving off PDFs of the data before I leave home
so as not to hog the Dark site internet bandwidth: ... lanner.htm

I am seriously considering investigating rtgui as an alternative to the sites above for planning.

Hope this helps,
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby steve-fung » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:34 pm

Rodger, these are great websites. Thanks!
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby robert-torrey » Tue Feb 10, 2015 10:46 am

When I got my first iPhone & iPad many years ago I collected astronomy apps. I ended up using SkySafari because with, proper settings, it could give a realistic view of the constellations for sky viewing and star hopping. I never paid attention to the telescope control until I got my CPC and the Skywire & Skyfi accesories, and it also works great with my solid state Macbook Air. I also like Wndows SkyTools for its eyepiece views, planning, and AL program imports, and I use MaximDL with FocusMax for camera work. But working with Windows, for me, seems to often become an exercise in frustration (RS232 USB adapter and driver incompatibility, "program not responding", frequent reboots, etc). Switching between platforms and programs can be annoying so I would like to find the perfect system for my Mac and learn it thoroughly.
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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby steve-munsey » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:29 am

Try Stellarium and see if it works for you. Its Free and Mac compatible.

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Re: Best astronomy software?

Postby chris-ober » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:02 pm

Cartes du Ciel is also free and multi-platform.
Has more of a learning curve but will run circles around Stellarium for lots of things.
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