Joined: 21 Jun 2012
Localisation: East Coast, USA
|Posted: 08/28/2012, 03:21 am Post subject: Stellarium
|Stellarium is a free open source software planetarium. It displays a realistic view of the sky from any given location on Earth, as well as the surface of Mars or Earth's moon, and is expandable through the use of installable star catalogs which give it the capability of displaying over 250 million stars.
Versions of Stellarium are available which are compatible with Windows, Linux Ubuntu, and Mac OS X. There is also a version available which can be run from a USB thumb drive, under the Portable Apps platform. The program is customizable in that the user can set a precise location in latitude, longitude, and elevation to match a precise view from any given point on Earth, Mars, or the moon. For orientation and familiarization purposes, it is possible to construct and install into the program a landscape background of any selected point, giving a degree of added realism, simulating the exact view from that point.
Time in the program can be set, within practical constraints, to obtain a view from that point of the night sky, with all of the celestial bodies in their proper place, at a given date and time. This is useful in investigating visible celestial bodies in any given sighting within a few years of any particular date. be advised that as time spans increase, the program will become less precise in the display, because of ephemeride precisions and calculation truncations. It becomes increasingly less precise +/- a couple thousand years, but presents reasonable accuracy within a few centuries of the current date.
With specific regard to UFO analysis, Stellarium is useful for determining the precise locations of known celestial bodies at a particular time, which in turn may aid in identifications or firming up location coordinates of unidentified objects by comparison with locations of known objects.
General capabilities include an ability to reset the time and location of the view to match that of any given sighting, zoom in, zoom out, and orient the viewer using the background and rotating the view to any direction from the point of observation. a determined investigator will find a number of useful abilities within the program, and some inventive and creative use can uncover many, many more. For more information on the program, including documentation, current version, and download links, visit http://www.stellarium.org/ .