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Software Review - Starry Night Enthusiast - Imaginova 

 

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The night sky is a wonderful place, but it's easy enough to get lost - the Starry Night Enthusiast Version 6 software contains everything you need to find your way around, and find out some amazing new facts.

Starry Night is an excellent planetarium program that brings up on your PC or Mac a view of the night sky that is simply brilliant. It's a clear, crisp, image, the controls are mostly intuitive and some of the extras are a delight. Constellations can be brought up in stick form, or (for the major ones) with a very effective graphic image. Click on a star or planet and you will get extra information. You can even travel to one. This may be a bit over the top for a star, but the way you travel out to Mars or Saturn is quite magical, and in the new Version 2 pack, you can even control this spaceflight with a joystick. The program shows you the view from home (or anywhere else), and monitors real time to show you the view now (but of course you can move to another date and time at will). The secondary features are good too. You can find something in space, print off star maps to take outside and more.  But in the end you have to come back to what is an excellent planetarium with 1 million stars and 28,000 galaxies.

Astronomers who are real enthusiasts will want to go for one of the more powerful Starry Night versions, but for the 95 per cent of us, adult and child who just want to peep out at the stars occasionally and know what we're seeing, and to find out more about space, this is excellent. Includes:

  • Follow the paths of over 25 interplanetary probes through the solar system.
  • Ride along with New Horizons on its mission to Pluto and more
  • Pan around 25 3-D models of spacecraft, including Voyager, Deep Impact, Stardust and more
  • Zoom in on 3-D models of comets, asteroids and satellites
  • Track over 830 artificial satellites used for communications, GPS, environmental monitoring and scientific research
  • Plan observing sessions with Event Finder that displays celestial events, such as lunar and solar eclipses
  • Pinpoint the exact location of historical events, such as the Apollo moon landings, with Location Markers
  • Access up-to-date local observing conditions through online link to Clear Sky Clock
  • Click on any location on Earth while hovering and select a Google Map for that precise location
  • Ambient environment sounds enhance the digital observing experience

Reviewed by Brian Clegg

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Last update 05 June 2007