Re: Astronomy Software
Ted Forte <twforte@...>
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Oh yes. Thanks for reminding us about Guide, Roy, I’ve been meaning to order it. Several of my on-line astro-geek friends use it. I guess what I didn’t get around to saying last time is that the “pretty” planetarium programs are fun for virtual touring, but all of the glitter is just excess baggage when you are out at the scope. Simple, accurate, clear and fast with a bare minimum of bells and whistles is what is called for there.
From: backbayastro@... [mailto:backbayastro@...] On Behalf Of Roy Diffrient
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2012 1:46 PM
Subject: [backbayastro] Re: Astronomy Software
My $0.02: Every program I've tried has limitations, funnies, interface quirks and omissions, but also some excellent capabilities. Megastar is user-friendly, but doesn't include all the NGC objects: Try finding the Cats Paw nebula, NGC 6334 - http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap080304.html - Not listed in Megastar 5, even though the program isophotes clearly show the beautiful nebula. Speaking of isophotes (on-screen shadings showing the shape of large nebulae), SkyTools doesn't seem to have any. It also does not have all the IC objects or all the Sharpless nebulae. When I first got SkyTools 3, I asked the developer about Sh2-308 (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090423.html), a Wolf-Rayet bubble that was not included (still isn't). He told me that there were many objects with discrepancies in position listings, etc. between databases. Even though the objects did exist, those objects usually did not make it into SkyTools.
Despite limitations, I still use those two programs, but I also use Guide ($40, http://www.projectpluto.com/). A new version, Guide 9, has just been released. Guide has great isophotes, imports images from DSS on-line, and has a relatively complete database. It's also great at occultations, and includes the capability for users to post additional databases, so that other users can download them. Many are available. So far limitations are that Guide has no logging (SkyTools is good for that), and the new PN-G designations for planetary nebulae are not included (the older PK designations are included). But for groups with tight budgets, note that Guide allows unlimited copying -- Buy once, copy and distribute freely, and the user manual is available on-line.