Visit a Planetarium From the Comfort of Your Own Computer - Netted
Article • August 12, 2011

Visit a Planetarium From the Comfort of Your Own Computer

Learn more about the night sky with Stellarium

Tonight marks the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, considered by astronomy nerds everywhere to be the most spectacular celestial event of the year. And while lying on your back staring into space for hours is relaxing, knowing more than how to spot the Big Dipper and passing aircraft can really improve the experience.

If you’re planning on going out to watch for shooting stars, brush up with Stellarium. The free planetarium program for Windows, Macs and Linux provides all the information you’ll need to know your way around the sky.

Stellarium lets you choose to view constellations, get an idea of where specific planets and satellites are, or to change the time and location so you can get an idea of where stars will be later tonight (or how the sky looked the hour you were born).

The program uses the Hipparcos catalogue of over 120,000 stars: that means even self-professed space geeks will be able to learn a thing or two.  Each click provides an object’s distance from Earth and magnitude, and you can even track the passage of man-made satellites.

It may not come equipped with a Pink Floyd laser show like our local planetarium, but this is definitely close!