Monday, June 20, 2011

Four cool tools for studying astronomy

Two of my favourite applications when it comes to studying the stars are Celestia and Stellarium. The former allows one to fly through the solar system following planets, asteroids or satellites, while the latter allows one to place oneself anywhere in the world to watch the constellations travel across the sky above. Stellarium also allows one to pause, fast-forward or rewind time to see what the starts do. There are some very cool videos on youtube that showcase what these two programmes can do:
There is also an increasing number of applications for Android that help people learn more about the night sky while standing in their front yard as well. Google Sky Map is great. If you want to find where Mars is, type in Mars and it will point an arrow in the right direction until you find it (video). Satellite AR is something I've only just discovered but it is no less impressive. It uses augmented reality to overlay the night sky with images and trajectories of satellites passing overhead. Here's a demo of it in action:

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