Whether it’s the Southern Cross over Australia, or the meeting of Jupiter and Saturn in the year minus six or the next full moon meeting with Mars: programs show what’s happening in the sky. The best free planetarium software is Stellarium, started by Fabien Chéreau over twenty years ago. The astronomy-loving programmer also worked on the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite programme.
The representation of the starry sky is very realistic – with horizon fog, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, shooting stars and more. Stellarium shows the dance of Jupiter’s moons as well as constellations from different cultures. As Sky Fans continues to develop new elements, the program is constantly getting more and more diverse.
Time travel to the future or the past
The standard 300 megabyte version shows more than 600,000 stars and countless star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. Additional catalogs increase the number of stars to over 150 million. To create a correct view of the sky from this amount of data, only some very simple trigonometric calculations are required.
The program enables long trips in time to the future or the past. But the same goes for Stellarium as with any planetarium software: as beautiful as it looks on screen – nothing compares to a real starry sky.