(UPDATE: As of June 7, 2007, 2Sky has been taken off of the market by it’s author. The image links I had in this post don’t work anymore, so I’m removing them)
When I’m up at Fremont Peak I sometimes dazzle my fellow amateurs by whipping out my Palm T/X and looking up an object and being able to tell them the distance, rise, transit, and set, as well as the location in either altitutde/azimuth, or RA/Dec within a few seconds. The secret weapon is 2Sky.
This nifty piece of software is a complete star chart all the way down to Mag. 7 (Optional plugins can be purchased to add stars down to either 9.5 or 11.2, as well as the complete NGC catalog).
Also included are comets and asteroids, and the ability to import new ones. Well known meteor showers are also included.
The zooming capability works very well, and when you zoom in all the way on some objects, some additional goodies appear.
For example, you can see the galilean sattelites of Jupiter (Callisto, Io, Ganymede and Europa) as well as the phases of the planets, and the rings of Saturn.
For the more experienced observer, there are features such as:
- Red night vision mode.
- Tel-Rad toggle (puts up simulated Tel-Rad sight circles)
- The ability to save any view and retrieve it later.
- Eyepiece circles (to simulate telescope optics. You edit the Field of View in 2Sky and tell it what the FOV for your eyepiece is, and it will put a circle of that size in the display)
- Lines for the Ecliptic, Celestial Equator and Galactic Equator, Horizon and constellations.
The author of this software is Kevin S. Polk. He earned an A.B. in Astrophysics from Princeton University and an M.S. in Astronomy from the University of Washington. In college, he observed from the VLA and all of the pre-Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea. Later, he managed NASA’s Pacific Regional Planetary Data Center in Honolulu, and served as an outreach partner to JPL’s Mars Pathfinder Mission. In 1999, he operated the Microphone experiment aboard Mars Polar Lander for the Planetary Society. Along the way, he has been a space systems analyst, multimedia CD-ROM author, popular public speaker, and President, Vice-President, and Newsletter Editor for the Hawaiian Astronomical Society.
2Sky can be purchased at http://www.in2space.com