Stellarium – Planetarium for the Masses
Some softwares are just too fun to be let go off and this weekend I discovered Stellarium, a free, open source planetarium software that shows a “realistic sky in 3D”. Stellarium is designed from ground up as a simple, easy to use, open source software to observe and learn about the breath taking beauty of the night sky.
The software asks you to select your city through its fairly simple configuration file. And if your hometown is missing (in my case Mardan was not there), one can enter the basic information like the Latitude, Longitude and height in meters above sea level and the software then automatically sets itself to the night sky in your area. It then slowly tracks the night sky as it changes with time so that the observer is always objects slowly rise and set over the night sky.
I trained my Stellarium on the planets first. Tonight, Saturn was visible in the night sky. With the help of a basic compass and the Stellarium software, I was able to pin-point the magnificent planet Saturn with some fairly good accuracy.