There are only a few worthy mentions for the beginner when it comes to the best astronomy software. Both paid and free software is available. All will take some learning to get the most usefulness out of them.
With this said, I have my personal favorite, and that is…
Celestron Starry Night Software
The Celestron Starry Night Software is, as the name implies, a software that can help the user have a better understanding of the universe around them. It’s important to know that this software is only free when it comes to installed in the Celestron telescope. When it comes to the retail price, if the buyer decides to acquire it on its own, the range goes between $79 and $99, depending on whether they’re going to purchase the basic or the special edition. However, the Pro Plus Version of the Starry Night 8 costs around $250, so choose wisely.
The difference between the two versions is that the former is attached to non-computerized and LCM telescopes, while the latter is included in its computerized counterpart. There have been several updates since the creation of the Celestron Starry Night Software, and the most current version is number 8. One great thing about this software is the high-quality rendering of the images in the telescope, without mentioning that its positioning feature is so precise that it allows the user to spot thirty-six thousand targets. But of course, this is not what the Starry Night is chalked up to be. Its aforementioned user guide is so interactive that it comes with interactive tutorials that let both experienced and new stargazers learn more about them.
Another great thing about this software is that it can be easily controlled from a computer when it comes to computerized models, mind the redundancy. Of course, one thing to mention is that it requires the latest Windows (or MAC, for Apple users) 10, as well as 1 GB of RAM and has 12 GB available in the device’s hard drive. Of course, all of this shall accompany an OpenGL 1.4 graphic card with a storage capacity of 128 MB.
What’s so good about Starry Night?
Now, there’s more to the Starry Night 8 than what meets the eye. It not only comes with a wide database, as it was mentioned earlier but also works easily with the telescopes that are supported by Ascom. This otherworldly software can also connect to SkyFi 3, making the stargazing experience even better. Another thing to mention is that the user won’t have to worry about the information they’ve been compiling since the Starry Night can store everything in the cloud for ease of recovery in the case that a factory reset is required to fix the telescope.
As it was mentioned before, there is also a Pro Plus version of the Starry Night 8, which is the priciest of them all. It goes without saying that it’s sometimes required to pay for quality and, even if the price is higher than its counterparts. The Pro, Enthusiast, and CSAP follow. They have several features that make them different from each other, although there they share some of them. Most of these versions, except for the latter, have Mission Data from Apollo 11, and they even have a dark theme if the user wants to add more elegance to the already easy to use interface.
Extra Features of Starry Night
When talking about control, this software doesn’t fall behind. It has been redesigned to provide a sleek and modern experience, something that most users, both experienced and new, are looking forward to. Not only that, but it also comes with an astronomy log that allows them to export their data with ease. It also comes with a calendar where stargazers can program when to take the telescopes and explore the night sky while looking for their favorite celestial phenomenon. So, if anyone wants to see when the next comet rain will happen, this one will be their ally.
Of course, all of this information and nice rendering doesn’t come alone, since they have recorded descriptions of every celestial being on its already wide database. Now, the Starry Night 8 adds a location system to its already wide arsenal to improve the user’s experience even further. All of this might seem like mere rocket science, pun definitely intended, considering the equipment. The 3D models that come with this software are also a way to make the users feel close to the stars. It might sound like a no-brainer, but they will need to determine which one is the best for their stargazing needs. Now, to explore the space with this software!
Other Paid Options
Starry night is a paid option unless you buy a Celestron telescope, but it’s always nice to have an alternative. A very similar software and my research tell me that the same company now owns them is SkySafari. The great thing if you don’t get starry night as you didn’t buy a Celestron telescope is that SkySafari is much cheaper $39.99.
I have not used the software. However, I know people who do use it and say it’s very much like starry night. Having looked at all the features, they seem very similar to starry night, and I would be happy to say with the price and the fact its owned by the same company it is well worth getting if you are looking for astronomy software.
Free Astronomy Software Options
It’s not always about paid software; stellarium has made a real name for itself with some people saying they have moved away from there paid software and used stellarium exclusively, which is a real compliment.
For me, astronomy software is all part of the astronomy jigsaw puzzle and one part that will really help you get the most of your time under the stars. I have included a few different options paid and free, but the best astronomy software is one that you take the time to learn and use.