Posts Tagged ‘Starry Night’

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

A new update for Starry Night Pro and Starry Night Pro Plus is available today. Use the ‘Help/Check for Updates’ menu option to download and install the update. I updated Starry Night Pro Plus and did not see any glitches during the update nor after restarting SNPP.

I emailed Starry Night Support for a list of fixes in this update and they responded:

“There was only one bug fixed between 6.4.2 and 6.4.3, but it was deemed critical for several of our education customers.”

  • Planet shadow cones drawing errors were fixed.

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1/30/2011
Recently I’ve read that some Starry Night users discussing the ‘LiveSky/Show Photographic Image…’ menu option. This option is ghosted (not available) unless you zoom in on a deep space object. Below is a screen shot I took in Starry Night Pro Plus – I was checking out Saturn and noticed M16 (I typically spec the Messier object labels on), so I went there and zoomed in and the included photo (very nice detail) was displayed:

Very cool. I’ve also seen posts where there were questions about the inclusion of the SDSS in SNP. I asked Starry Night’s Support and this is what they said:

“We have not yet included support for the SDSS III (Sloan Digitized Sky Survey 3) because after doing some testing, we found that their download service was not yet reliable enough for us to consider adding it as a feature into SN.”

Good news, and hopefully the download service will improve soon.

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1/31/2011

For a bit of space-related humor (Mars rover attitude issues), check this out.

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2/16/2011

Tips regarding using Celestron telescopes and SNP 6.4 from Bob, who had this issue:

Problem: Go to the configure screen, selected Celestron, then tried to go to properties and all he saw was a message, “Failed To Load Driver : Cannot create ActiveX component”. He has a CG-5 which connects just fine to The Sky (using the same computer and cables).

Brenda from Starry Night solved the problem for Bob:
“Make sure you have the latest version of the ASCOM telescope driver platform and Celestron drivers. You can get them here:
http://www.ascom-standards.org

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2/18/2011

Tip to address an unusual SNP bug known to affect Mac OSX users, courtesy of Kevin Schultz from StarryNight@yahoogroups.com. Kevin recommended this approach to Konstantin, who confirmed it addressed the problem.

Problem: To address an unusual bug in SNP (know to affect Mac OSX users): When updating from inside the SNP program, the Program does not require the administrative rights in order to update the program in the Application folder. SNP tries to download the installer and notices that it can install and then gives you the message you see which is actually not happening!!

To update, try this first.

  1. Start SNP
  2. Check for Updates
  3. Choose just download
  4. Wait for the download to complete (that downloading is in progress in upper right corner of the window)
  5. Quit SNP
  6. Open the SNP folder in the Applications folder(Program) !
  7. Open the folder Standalone updaters
  8. Double-Click on the latest Updater

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2/22/2011

The azimuth in the HUD is read in hours, not degrees. How is that changed? Per Stan Glaser from StarryNight@yahoogroups.com:

Preferences > Number Formats > Azimuth (hh or ddd° in one of the variations presented)

– Mike

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Starry Night version 6.4.2 is available as of today. I downloaded and installed it for Starry Night Pro Plus and had no errors during or after the update.

Per an email I received from Starry Night Support on 1/19/2011, this update has the following bug fixes:

  • Crash when printing on OS X.
  • Graph View problems (OpenGL Init problem. OS X.)
  • Calculation of Delta-T for years -500 to 500 was incorrect.
  • FOV indicators now update/draw in the sky if time flow is off.
  • Image Editor “Background Reduction” slider added. Fixes background reduction not working.
  • Constellation Stick Figures not drawing correctly in 3D space when a single constellation is selected.
  • Removed confusing application update message on startup when no data updates requested.

Click here to see our information on the next release (6.4.3) of Starry Night.

On a separate note, I really enjoy reading the Starry Night Times, which is their monthly newsletter. Click here to subscribe to it.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

This post contains information about Starry Night version 6.4.1. Click here to read our post on release version 6.4.2, which was available for downloading the morning of January 18, 2011.

Version 6.4.0 to 6.4.1 Update

January 12, 2011

I contacted Starry Night Support for a list of specific fixes/enhancements for versions 6.4.0 and 6.4.1, and they sent me this information on 12/28/2010. The support center informed me that users experiencing problems starting Starry Night after updating can manually delete their preferences file, which should allow them to start the software. They also believe they found the source of the 6.4.1 bug and intend fix it in the next update.

December 25, 2010

I fired up Starry Night Pro to write a quick post about Uranus this morning and saw there was a new version available: 6.4.1. I installed the update (previously at version 6.3.9) and used it immediately. No errors during installation, although I had to manually restart Starry Night after the update completed.

New features from version 6.4.0 to 6.4.1:

  • address some issues that arose with some OS X users and our new usage of OpenGL.

Note: Everything looks much the same in version 6.4.1 as in version 6.3.9, but I did have one problem. While going through the program features, Starry Night did unexpectedly terminate – can’t recall exactly what I was doing, but it gave an OpenGL error message before quitting.

Note 2: I believe the added Apollo missions (only available for the Pro and Pro Plus versions of Starry Night) were part of the Starry Night Apollo application, which is still listed (12-27-2010) as a free-standing product in the Starry Night store.

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Version 6.3.9 to 6.4.0 Update

December 25, 2010

New features from version 6.3.9 to 6.4.0:

  • A number of bug fixes, performance improvements, under the hood stuff.
  • Advanced Particle Galaxy Rendering
  • Hour Angle Lines
  • SkyView Link (Image Editor)
  • Argo Navis Support (OS X)
  • Up to 14 new panoramas (Pro Plus gets 14, Pro 9, enthusiast 5)
  • Minor updates to some db’s like meteor showers

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Preferences Files Locations

March 29, 2011

The preference file problem for Starry Night Pro users running Windows 7 has been repeatedly addressed since January, however Mr Bill of the Yahoo SN forum recently responded why a good solution to fix this issue is to use the Run as Admin solution:

“W7 defaults to running everything in NON-ADMIN mode even if you are the admin. All that is needed – if you are the administrator, which most people who have a single login are, is to right clk the file you want to run and select COMPATIBILITY then select RUN THIS PROGRAM AS ADMINISTRATOR. If it is an older version on SNP also select RUN THIS PROGRAM IN COMPATIBILITY MODE and set it for XP SP3 or whatever runs.”

Thank you for the clear details why this approach is needed, Mr. Bill.

January 17, 2011

If I ran Vista, I’d probably look for a .txt file in the “C:\Program Files\Starry Night <version>\” directory.

The support center informed me that the Preferences file locations for Windows are in different locations, depending on the version of Windows. They prefer that people needing help with the SN Preferences files for Windows contact them at www.starrynightsupport.com.

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January 7, 2011

I’ve received a couple of questions about the Preferences file location for Starry Night Pro and Pro Plus. I contacted their support center and this was their reply:

The Mac OSX Preferences are located at:

/Users/<Your Username>/Library/Preferences/Imaginova Canada/Prefs/

The “User State Prefs.txt” file is located in either the Pro or “Pro Plus” folder depending on which version you have.

IMPORTANT! If you can’t find the Prefs file, remember there are 3 potential Library directories:

  • ~/Library – for a specific user
  • /Library – for all users of the computer
  • /System/Library – for system-wide use

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Historical Data on All Version 6.x New Features:

December 25, 2010

All of the newest features in Starry Night version 6.x are:

  • Hour Angle Lines and Vernal Equinox Hour Angle Guide.
  • SkyView Link in Image Editor Downloads Thousands of New Images.
  • Advanced Particle Galaxy Rendering.
  • New minor planets and their moons have been added and updated.
  • Apollo Space Missions: trajectories of the Apollo spacecraft, full models and guided tours.
  • Distance Spheres can now be added to any solar system body with any radius and color.
  • Shadow Cones can be displayed to show the shadows of orbiting bodies.
  • The precessional path of the celestial poles can now be displayed.
  • The circumpolar region, based on your latitude, can now be displayed.
  • Event Finder: Appulse event searching alerts you when the Moon or the Pleiades is near bright planets.
  • Added up to 24 new horizon panoramas.
  • New update technology built directly into Starry Night. Will check for updates automatically if registered.
  • Animated trips between planets now use more visually appealing planet avoidance.
  • Tully database improved to allow for more galaxy types.
  • Saturn’s rings and ring shadows now draw even more precisely.
  • Universal Time can now be displayed and edited in the toolbar.
  • The value of DeltaT has been improved and can now be overridden by the user.
  • All planets now draw with softer edges.
  • Updated LiveSky links and images.
  • Thicker lines on high-DPI displays maintain visibility.
  • More Customer Support Features
  • Spaceship responsiveness dramatically improved.
  • Improved Space Mission rendering speeds.
  • Improved Find feature for multiple objects of same name.
  • Updated mythological descriptions for all 88 classical constellations

OS-specific improvements:

  • Argo Navis support for Mac OS X.
  • Smooth window fading (Win XP and Vista)
  • Transparent floating windows (Vista only)

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Saturn Facts:

  • Location: 6th planet from the sun
  • Size: 2nd largest planet in our solar system
  • Orbit: 9.54 AU
  • Orbital Period: 29.44 Julian Years *
  • Average Distance from Earth: 9.58 AUs *
  • Diameter: 120,536 km
  • Discovered: 1610 by Galileo
  • Atmosphere: 75% Hydrogen, 25% helium
  • Interesting facts: visited by Pioneer 11, Voyage 1&2, Cassini. it has rings, internal heat source.
  • Total number of moons: 61 (Tarqeq, Pan, Daphnis, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus, Janus, Aegaeon, Mimas, Methone, Anthe, Pallene, Enceladus, Tethys, Calypso, Telesto, Polydeuces, Dione, Helene, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus, Kiviuq, Ijiraqm Phoebe, Paaliaq, Skathi, Albiorix, S/2007 S2, Bebhionn, Erriapo, Siarnaq, Skill, Tavros, Greip, S/2004 S13, Hyrrikkin, Mundilfari, S/2006 S1, Jarnsaxa, Narvi, Bergelmir, S/2004 S17, Suttungr, Hati, S/2004 S12, Bestla, Farbauti, Thrymr, S/2007 S3, Aegir, S/2004 S7, S/2006 S3, Kari, Fenrir, Surtur, Ymir, Loge, and Fornjot)
  • Click here for Wolfram|Alpha data on Saturn

* = Courtesy of Wolfram Astronomy Assistant

One of my favorite hobbies is astronomy, but I’m currently without a decent telescope so I take advantage of computer software and the internet to satisfy my desire to explore the heavens.  I have two favorite astronomy packages – Starry Night and Voyager – both are loaded with features and very good for people with passing interest in the stars and planets, as well as more serious hobbyists.  Right now I am testing and reviewing Redshift 7, another astronomy package for Windows, and I’ll post my review here as soon as my evaluation is complete.

This evening I started Starry Night up after booting my Macbook and took a quick jaunt to Jupiter and Saturn. My last astronomy post dealt with Jupiter, so let me discuss Saturn tonight. Saturn is a gas giant, is the second largest planet in our solar system, and is the 6th planet from the sun. Most people know about the rings surrounding Saturn, which are made of ice and rocks.


As you see at the left of the screen, we’re looking at the Starry Night Find tab and see some data about the planet and moons. If we want more data then we need to switch to the info tab and select the More Options button.

Quite a few options. If you need more information about this gas giant, select the Extended Options button, which launches Safari and looks for information on Saturn in Wikipedia.

Now for a view of Saturn as seen from the surface of Enceladus, the sixth largest moon of Saturn and one of only three outer solar system bodies (in addition to Io and Triton) where we have been able to observe an eruption:

When I think of the first astronomy program I used on a computer (an open source program), I am amazed and pleased how far this genre of software has evolved over the years. Instead of sitting out in the cold and hunched over a textbook to glean data about dim astronomical bodies, we can learn about the planets and stars in our classrooms, homes, and as we travel.

The current generation of people in high school and college will have the opportunity to travel into space on one of the commercial space craft now being developed. I imagine that same generation will be able to travel to the moon and maybe even to Mars. If this interests you even a little, take the time to set aside time spent watching TV or playing games and see some of the wonders in the skies above you. The images of planets and stars now available to people is impressive, and what you see now may be something you see in person in the future.

I should also mention that people using iTunes should check out iTunesU. Professor Nemiroff at Michigan Technological University has posted all of his lectures for PH1600, a college-level introduction to astronomy. They are informative, easy to watch, and absolutely worth the time to download and view. There are other astronomy courses at iTunesU, so take the time to check them out.

Until then, be well.

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Updates

6-24-2011 – Added Orbital Period, Average Distance from Earth Information.

2-14-2011 – Added names of all moons.

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Jupiter Facts:

  • Location: 5th planet from the sun
  • Size: largest planet in our solar system
  • Orbit: 5.2 AU
  • Orbital Period: 11.86 Julian Years *
  • Average Distance from Earth: 5.26 AUs *
  • Diameter: 142,984 km
  • Discovered: 1610 by Galileo
  • Atmosphere: 90% Hydrogen, 10% helium
  • Interesting facts: visited by Pioneer 10&11, Voyager 1&2, Ulysses
  • Total Number of moons: 63 (Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea, Thebe, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Themisto, Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, S/2000 J11, S/2003 J12, Carpo, Euporie, S/2003 J3, S/2003 J18, Orthosie, Euanthe, Harpalyke, Praxidike, Thyone, S/2003 J16, Iocaste, Mneme, Hermippe, Thelxinoe, Helike, Ananke, S/2003 J15, Eurydome, Arche, Herse, Pasithee, S/2003 J10, Chaldene, Isonoe, Erinome, Kale, Aitne, Taygete, S/2003 J9, Carme, Sponde, Megaclite, S/2003 J5, S/2003 J19, S/2003 J23, Kalyke, Kore, Pasiphae. Eukelade, S/2003 J4, Sinope, Hegemone, Aoede, Kallichore, Autonoe, Callirrhoe, Cyllene, and S/2003 J2)
  • Click here for Wolfram|Alpha data on Jupiter

* = Courtesy of Wolfram Astronomy Assistant

I’ve been an amateur astronomer all my life, and I’ve been fortunate to use some of the best non-professional astronomy packages on a variety of platforms. Two of my favorite Windows/Mac astronomy applications are Starry Night Pro 6.x and Voyager 4.x. I’ve reviewed Starry Night for several UK magazines – MacWorld and Software Latest – and Ted Bade recently reviewed the Voyager 4.5.7 software.

This afternoon I ran Starry Night on my older G5 iMac and, as always, it showed the daily events for today. There were four, so I selected the first that was of Europa in transition around Jupiter. I liked it well enough to take a moment to grab an image so I could share it with you readers. Jupiter is my second favorite planet in the solar system, not because of the size but because of turbulent gases that make up the atmosphere and the many moons that surround it. Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and a bunch more.

Jupiter as Seen with Software

Europa transitions Jupiter - 10-16-2010

The shadow of tiny Europa on Jupiter

After seeing the shadow of tiny Europa on Jupiter, it might be a good idea to see how Jupiter appears to someone on Europa:

Jupiter as it appears from Io, the closest of the large moons of Jupiter:

Finally, Jupiter as it is seen on Ganymede:

It is so easy to change viewing locations in Starry Night. Just use the Options/Viewing Locations menu option and select the location to use for home, then press the Go to Location button. Simple.

Now an image of Jupiter while in Starry Night’s Spaceship mode (a fun way to play space explorer), on course for Jupiter:

The keyboard shortcuts are in the upper left area of the screen, while speed/distance/acceleration are by your target. I tried the Captain Sheridan thing (diving into the Jupiter atmosphere like he did to avoid the Shadow ship in ‘Messages from Earth’ Season 3 of Babylon 5), but hitting the atmosphere of Jupiter just puts you on the other side. Bummer! I should also add that some of the shortcuts (Roll, Pitch, and Yaw) don’t do me a lot of good on my Macbook, but I still love this feature of Starry Night.

Starry Night always makes my top 10 list for students of any age, and I can’t wait until they release the next major update. Please take the time to look over the various versions of this software at the website of Imaginova. And also take time to check out Carina Software’s site – the company that developed Voyager. Carina’s mobile versions of their products were known as Carina Mobile, but are now known as SkySafari and SkyFi and are available here.

Jupiter Moons as Seen by Probes

1. IO

Check out the coolest picture ever taken from a Earth vessel: an erupting volcano on distant Io:

Image courtesy NASA

This is a new image of IO shows incredible surface details. I find it as impressive as the erupting volcano image above.

Image courtesy NASA

2. Europa – from ZDNet 5/16/2011

Europa’s surface does not look inviting, at least if one planned to explore it on foot.

Image courtesy NASA

3. Ganymede – from ZDNet 5-16-2011

When I was young, I read Robert Heinlein’s ‘Farmer in the Sky’, a novel about humanity colonizing Ganymede. Heinlein didn’t have the images and scientific knowledge we possess of Jupiter today, but he wrote an interesting tale how we might live there.  This is an image taken on the last Jupiter mission by Galileo.

Image courtesy NASA.

4. Callisto – from ZDNet 5/16/2011

The surface of Callisto appears as inviting as that of our moon, however the view of nearby Jupiter would be impressive.

Image courtesy NASA

Astronomy is interesting, and while it is fun to catch shows on the science channel, the computer is the ideal media to really get into the subject. There are a number of good open source astronomy packages like Celestina and WorldWideTelescope.org that are available for cash-strapped people that are interested but unable to afford the cash outlay for more software.

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Updates

6-24-2011 – Added Orbital Period, Average Distance from Earth information.

5-16-2011 – Added 3 new images of Jupiter moons taken by Galileo.

2-14-2011  – Added names of all moons.

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And for something completely different…

On an aside, I first tried the Starry Night software because my favorite painting of all time is Van Gogh’s Starry Night, which was the inspiration for Don McLean’s song called “Vincent”, which can be seen below:

Take care and be well.
Mike

by Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Have you tried any of the excellent astronomy packages on your home computer? One of my favorites is Starry Night, by Imaginova. I originally installed Starry Night Pro 6 on my iMac and reviewed it for MacWorld UK, and recently installed it on my 2.26 GHz Macbook. I had received the 6.0 release, so I downloaded and installed the 6.0 to 6.3.3 and the 6.3.3 to 6.3.9 updates, which took much less time to install than they did to download.

One of the nicest thing about Starry Night is the ability to create and save movies, which I’ve done for some of our space missions like the New Horizons mission to Pluto. To see the mission, click on this link to NASA’s video.

I’m hoping to have more reviews of Starry Nights products on our site in the future, as using astronomy software on your local PC beats standing outside in subzero weather, trying not to freeze as you peer through a telescope lens.

Let us know if you use Starry Night or any of the other excellent astronomy packages out there, and why you like or dislike them.

6.3.3 Updates

Enhancements

  • New minor planets and their moons have been added and updated.
  • Distance Spheres can now be added to any solar system body with any radius and color. (All programs except C.S.A.P.)
  • Shadow Cones can be displayed to show the shadows of orbiting bodies.
  • New update technology built directly into Starry Night. Will check for updates automatically if registered.
  • Animated trips between planets now use more visually appealing planet avoidance.
  • Tully galaxy rendering now implemented as particle systems.
  • Tully database improved to allow for more galaxy types.
  • Saturn’s rings and ring shadows now draw even more precisely, and look much better.
  • Universal Time can now be displayed and edited in the toolbar. (Pro, Pro Plus, Astrophoto Suite only.)
  • The precessional path of the celestial poles can now be displayed.
  • The circumpolar region, based on your latitude, can now be displayed.
  • The value of DeltaT has been improved and can now be overridden by the user. (Pro, Pro Plus, Astrophoto Suite only.)
  • All planets now draw with softer edges.
  • Updated LiveSky links and images.
  • Some lines now draw thicker on high-DPI displays to maintain visibility.
  • Added more features that can help Customer Support track down issues.
  • Spaceship responsiveness dramatically improved.
  • Various space mission data sets have been broken into smaller, logical segments to improve rendering speed.
  • Added 5 new horizon panoramas.
  • Improved Find feature for multiple objects of same name.

Bug Fixes

  • Exported data of the sky view now contains a header row.
  • Galaxy types in several databases have been fixed.
  • Horizon drawing improved when looking at the nadir.
  • Spaceship speed controls now work when Starry Night time is stopped.
  • Telescope name now indicated in Windows 3-pane print settings dialog.
  • SkyCal. Adding event times between 12am and 1am now save properly.
  • Pluto now correctly classified as a Dwarf Planet in the orbit editor.
  • Satellite eccentricities now correctly imported from source file.
  • Moons can now be added to dwarf planets.
  • Adding/editing planet surface images or 3DS model assignments now works.
  • User-specified images are now correctly rendered on moons.
  • One-pane printing FOV fixed.
  • Print legend now shows correct size on all Windows machines.
  • Cardinal points can now be controlled independently of horizon using horizon layer labels.
  • Increased delay in Find search box autosearch.
  • Observing list filters fixed.
  • Comets are now correctly indicated on printed output.
  • Observing lists can now display the objects constellation.
  • Coordinates now export in the format selected in the preferences.
  • Peak times for Meteor Showers are now listed.
  • Ambient sound has been restored.