You can't beat the value of Stellarium.
Stellarium is short and sweet, to the point, just the way I like an application.
It's rather short of features, compared with commercial programs like Starry Night Pro. There are a lot of times when you don't want to wait for Starry Night Pro and all it's features to load just to discover where a particular planet is located. What it does do, it does relatively well.
Stellarium can be extended with plugins, and comes with several out of the starting gate. I use the angle tool, computerized telescope support, and ocular extensively.
The computerized telescope support is lacking. It doesn't support ASCOM for total observatory integration, but it does support a number of telescopes, including CelestronSky-Watcher and Meade. The lack of a mouse interface to send slew commands to the telescope means you have to use the keyboard's hotkeys (CTRL-1 slews Telescope #1 to the currently selected point). Without a suitable mouse interface for this feature, it breaks workflow for many people (although hotkeys are faster in the long run).
Still, you can't beat free, and overall this is one of my favorite astronomy programs. I use it every day to educate people.
Stellarium has always been one of the better planetarium softwares and I don't dispute that which is why I gave it another go to see the changes.
The interface is alright, sort of quirky trying to maneuver around and I wasn't that impressed with the view ports. The graphics are still decent. When I typed in where I live, it would stick me on Saturn, heh.
All in all, it's a great planetarium although I still favor Winstars, which to me, still has a better, smoother interface. Stellarium didn't sway or wow me again, so maybe, next time?
I still recommend this, just not as much as I would like to.
It is always installed on any computer that I have.
Stellarium is a real gem. For beginner sky watchers (like me) it has the basics and is intuitive to use. For the more advanced users it has a lot of extra features, with more deep sky star catalogs available for download should you so wish. A definite keeper.
Stellarium reminds me of why I always loved computers growing up. Software like this provides real time, localized information that you just can't get out of a book. The features are plentiful, with some you don't expect but that enhance the experience very much. If I have a complaint, it's that Stellarium, like other programs of its kind, doesn't really tell a person much beyond highly esoteric specifics, so if you're not an astronomer, this information won't be particularly interesting. If the software tied into a database that told you more about the star, like when it was discovered, by who, and any other trivia, it would make astronomy a little more accessible to us non-experts. Still, it's great to be able to look up at the stars and know, finally, what I'm looking at.
I have 'fiddled' around with a number of similar programs but this is the best by far.
I use to use SkyGlobe, an old DOS based app because all the Windows based Astronomy apps were clunky or flaky and of limited information but this is just excellent. Agreed it takes a wee bit of experimenting to understand the navigation controls but once you have that figured out it becomes real easy and very useful. A generic horizon background would be useful although you can use the 'Ocean' setting instead and it is excellent with the polar lines and the red lit night vision mode. Try the constellation images from the various cultures around the world. Thanks for an excellent piece of work suitable for both kids learning and the serious amateur astronomer. Note that a good video card and plenty of RAM makes it run much better, it is a processor intensive app.
Regardless of whether you are a serious hobby astronomer or just want some educational fun, this program is a must have. The basics are easy to master, although some features are for the more experienced user. There are night sky programs that cost a lot of money, but Stellarium is free and can give any of them strong competition.
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