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.
Images of nebulae (full Messier catalogue).
The planets and their satellites.
- 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!