The Changing Views of Saturn

As we move toward Spring, Saturn’s placement high in the sky comes earlier each night. This makes it a nice target for camera and telescope as the night temperatures become easier to endure.

A striking feature of Saturn this season is the near edge-on view of the rings. From our line of site, we get a different view than we have in years past when much more of the ring facing was visible. In fact, if you had the opportunity to view Saturn 7 years ago , you were treated to the maximum face-on view!

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Stellarium- Awesome Free Planetarium!

Have you heard of the planetarium program Stellarium? If not, AstroPhotography Tonight highly encourages you to check it out! Stellarium is a free planetarium program for your computer developed by the open source community. Since it is an open source program, anyone has the right to download and use the software for free, under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).


Stellarium shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is an awesome tool for astrophotographers for planning an evening at the telescope. Here are some notable features:

Default catalogue of over 600,000 stars and and extra catalogues with more than 210 million stars.

Stellarium- Free Planetarium Software

Images of nebulae (full Messier catalogue).

Stellarium Planetary Software- Messier Objects

The planets and their satellites.

Stellarium Planetary Software-Planets

Skinnable landscapes.

Stellarium Planetary Software-Landscapes

More Features

  • very realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset
  • a powerful zoom-
  • time control- see when an object of interest rises or is high in the sky
  • multilingual interface
  • fisheye projection for planetarium domes
  • asterisms and illustrations of the constellations
  • spheric mirror projection for your own low-cost dome
  • nice graphical interface and extensive keyboard control
  • telescope control (this feature not tried by AstroPhotography Tonight yet)
  • equatorial and azimuthal grids
  • star twinkling- adds to the realism
  • shooting stars
  • eclipse simulation
  • spheric panorama projection
  • add your own deep sky objects, landscapes, constellation images, scripts

For more information and to download, just go to the main Stellarium website. You can’t beat this tip from AstroPhotography Tonight!

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