Feb 172017

Hallo Northern Sky is an educational, fun and fascinating planetarium program for windows and linux machines. It features around 30,000 objects and many more stars in its catalogue and can find any of them, provide descriptions and high resolution pictures with planets ones showing surface features. It can retrieve updated information online for more objects such as asteroids and comets too.

The first action after installing the program is to save a location, the program prompts the user to do so on first start or if there is no location saved. The only input type requires the user to know his/her location’s longitude and latitude (as opposed to a program like Stellarium that can set a user location by name). The program settings is where one can download or update the aforementioned additional or newer lists and images. Within the same settings (File —>Settings) the program interface can be tweaked to use bigger fonts, different fonts (instead of the default Comic Sans) and different colors. The Settings tab of the Settings (!) has options to change local file settings, use different equinox epochs and make corrections for atmospheric effects.

The program has multiple editors to load or edit astronomical data including images (.fits) files and asteroid and comet databases manually. The Search menu loads object (planets, moons, deep space objects, stars, constellations) names and can center on an object’s location. Supplementary or extra databases can be downloaded from the developer site and searched as well. These include additional galaxies and stars. The Objects menu is like loading specific supplements or databases and acts as a filter to view certain objects, for example to filter magnitude or use other deep sky maps that show farther objects. The Date menu can show the sky as it looks 1 hour from now, 1 day from now, tonight or any date.

Moving the mouse on the program window and left clicking on an object provides information about it on the upper left side of the window. Name, brightness, right ascension, declination, magnitude and more is given. Right clicking offers more like centering on the object, downloading images of an object and if no object is selected using one of online resources to search that chosen area of the sky. The Animation option (Screen —>Animation) lets the user visualize movements in time increments and follow planets or star movements.

Use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out or Ctrl+R for the aforementioned animation. The program has many hot keys built in. The extensive help file on the same page has lots more info.

Information can be copied to the clipboard when it is displayed on the status bar, just left click on the status bar to copy information about the clicked on area. ASCOM is supported, Hallo Northern Sky can interface with compatible telescopes and direct them to point to objects.

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