While doing some Googling to show Carlos pictures of Jupiter, I stumbled across what has to be the coolest astronomy program I’ve ever seen. Stellarium is a free open source program that allows the user to see the night sky (or even the day sky) from anywhere on Earth. From their website: “With Stellarium, you really see what you can see with your eyes, binoculars or a small telescope.” The program automatically defaults to the current system time, but has a great feature of being able to go backward or forward in time to see the affects of changing night sky. Ever wanted to learn the constellations? With Stellarium, you can turn on the constellation names and lines, as well as some constellation art. You can pan the sky and look for stars, galaxies, nebulae, planets, etc. Then with your new-found knowledge, go outside and spot the stars and planets you just found. But perhaps the best feature by far is that when you find an object of interest, you can then zoom in to that object as if you were looking through a telescope. I did a search for Saturn (who doesn’t like to look at the rings?!), zoomed in and there it was in all its beauty complete with moons. Searching for and finding nebulae was incredible. Be warned that the program takes up an incredible amount of memory. If you’re into astronomy, have kids that would benefit from learning about it or even just want to fiddle around with an incredibly cool program, check out Stellarium. This is a program I could spend hours on.
Going for something a little different today. It was a hard choice between Arlo Guthrie’s version and this one. But in the end, I chose this one due to the great rail photos in it. Enjoy Willie Nelson and The City of New Orleans, written by Steve Goodman.