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Astronomy Software

Astronomy Software

Guide (Version 8.0)
by Project Pluto

This is rather fantastic astronomy
software that does almost everything!

While this is not as well know as some of the software out there,
this does MUCH MUCH more. It also has MUCH more data
and MANY more objects displayed. Planetarium presentations
and telescope control are only small portion of what this software does!

We have been using versions of The Guide for a number of years.
They were all awesome. This version is the AWESOMEST!! ... (Is that a word?)

Summary of Some Features of
The Guide - Version 8

  • Numerous databases are included allowing you to choose what is displayed. You also
    may generate your own databases to display data.
  • Even with all this program does, the default settings make it easy to use and start.
  • Program fills two CDs with data. You may choose which data to display.
  • Detailed 90 page printed manual included and program has good help functions.
  • Generate and view animations of planetary and other movements. These may be stored
    as .AVI files. Animations shown in real time or accelerated time.
  • Complete control of Meade® (LX-types), Celestron®, and ASCOM controlled telescopes.
  • All screens may be saved or printed. Make your own charts and illustrations.
  • You may zoom from 180º (entire hemisphere) down to 1" (1 sec of arc)
  • Current star positions shown to an accuracy of about 0.01" (sec of arc)
    • Extremely accurate star position from the satellite generated Hipparcos Catalog.
    • Database of 15 million stars from Hubble Guide Star Catalog (GSC).
    • Numerous stellar catalogs including the SAO and HD (Henry Draper) catalogs.
    • More than 14,000 stars in the NSC - New Catalog of Suspected Variables.
    • Star position accurate to about 7" of arc even over millions of years.
    • Precession positions accurate for about 10,000 years forward and backward
  • Highly accurate planetary, planetary satellite, and asteroid positions.
    • Planetary position accurate to about 10,000 years forward and backward
    • Asteroid database contains 158,000 asteroids and comets. You may choose
      what to display. (Accuracy depends on precision of the orbit parameters available)
    • Asteroid and comet databases are updated on line for improved accuracy and new discoveries.
    • Zoom in on a planet to see the following features:
      • Currently visible features on Mercury and Mars are displayed
      • Position of Jupiter's Red Spot and Saturn's rings are shown accurately
        (zooming in on Saturn's rings is really awesome!)
      • Lunar features and phases are displayed when you zoom in on the moon
      • Displays satellite positions for Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto
      • Satellite transits and eclipses shown for Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus
      • Zoom in on the Galilean satellites for a map of Jupiter's moons!
      • Set your location to Jupiter and see what it looks like from its moons!
    • Generates ephemeris of positions of planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets.
    • Generate data for rising and setting times of objects, positions, Jupiter satellite interactions, occultations, and may other solar system events
  • Astounding catalogs of deep-sky objects!
    • All star clusters and nebula are displayed using a number of catalogs.
      Several clusters in other nearby galaxies also are included.
    • By default the objects displayed depends on how deep you zoom.
      This keeps things from getting too full. Or shown them all!
    • There are numerous catalogs of galaxies. When you zoom close
      the PGC/LEDA catalog of about 190,000 galaxies is used.
    • From the second CD, you may load other catalogs including
      the "million galaxy catalog." This one has about 1,500,000 galaxies!
With a program that does so much, it is difficult to show enough without showing too much. We had to keep the downloads short enough even with a phone modem. We decided to show three different events. These are: zooming in on Jupiter and its satellites; zooming in a group of galaxies in Virgo; and, showing the Big Dipper at three times in history.
The images on the screen look much better because we have reduced an entire monitor screen down to about 1/6 of its original size. This was done here to save download time.

Zoom in on Jupiter

Zoom to 20º around Jupiter includes Neptune, stars, and deep-sky.

Zoom three steps and Jupiter, a few stars, and many moons are visible.

Zoom three steps to 15' and Jupiter its nearby moons are shown.

Zoom two steps to 4' and we see Io is in transit on Jupiter.

Zoom three steps to 15" and Io shows clearly on Jupiter.

Zoom two steps to 4", and we now center on Io instead of Jupiter.

Zoom three steps to 15' and Jupiter its nearby moons are shown.

Zoom in on Region Around M-88

Let us start at zoom Level 3 (45º). Messier
objects were turned on to show the members in Virgo

Zoom two steps to 10º. A lot of NGC objects now are shown around M88.
M88 itself is almost lost by so many galaxies in this Virgo cluster

Zoom one more level to 5º and some more fainter
NGC and IC galaxies are now visible around M88.

Zoom two steps to 1º and M88 has a little more room. Note that
LEDA 169474 a faint galaxy in the PGC/LEDA catalog is near M88.

Zoom two more levels to 15' and we see that LEDA 169501 is the
closest galaxy in the catalogs to M88. In the
upper right note that asteroid 27857 is in the field.

I forgot to mention that you may also turn on the photos of most
of the galaxies. Photos of all the Messier, NGC, IC, and many
others are included. These are from the DSS (Digital Sky Survey)
There are a large number of objects in the catalogs. By default they are displayed depending on the zoom level. The more you zoom, the fainter the objects that are displayed. You may modify to either turn a catalog on all the tine (as we did with the Messier objects in the above example) or to change how bright they must be to appear.

If you wish to zoom in on an object, a left click centers it. You may then zoom in using the keyboard or mouse. In regions were there are lots of objects displayed, you may right click to go through those adjacent objects to find the one you want. A right click also beings up the "More Info" button. This brings up all the data available about the object you right clicked on. These data are displayed from a number of catalogs on the CD. The data included would list the magnitude from several sources as well as size and visual descriptions.

Distances between objects may be easily estimated. If you right click on the center of an object and drag the curser to another object, the distance between the objects in minutes and seconds of arc are shown.

The Big Dipper Over Time

Here is what Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) looks like today.
If we go back a million years, it did not look like a dipper then.
Or forward a million years, it will not look like a dipper then either.
And what is the moon doing in Ursa Major????
The ecliptic is shown there. (But remember planetary
positions are only accurate for about 10,000 years.)
You may set the animation to show a large number of events and how the objects move. Setting the time to 1 million BC and time rate to 2500 years per second, makes even the stars move. This animation may be saved to an .AVI file. You also may step through the time changes one step at a time.

There are a lot of interesting events you may watch. You may set your location to one of Jupiter's moons, and watch your moon orbit Jupiter and see the other moons run through the fields. Watching Saturn's rings move over the years is very beautiful.

Possibly the most frequent use of this program is to see "What is Up Tonight." You may set the time to later tonight and see where the objects you are interested in are located. Watch the stars move as the Earth turns during the night. See the phase of the moon and what craters on the moon are well placed tonight. How are Saturn's moons moving tonight? While Jupiter's moons movements around the planet are easily available, what about Saturn's moons movements. Now the that rings of Saturn are almost closed, these transits and other events are visible.

If you take photos of deep-sky objects, what galaxies and clusters are well placed? If there is a faint galaxy visible in your photo of a brighter one, what one is it?

Guide (Version 8.0) by Project Pluto
Price Only: $88.95!


Last Updated May 5, 2009