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A personal choice of good free and inexpensive resources to help amateur astronomers.

 

  Contents
 

 

  On-line Programs and Websites
 

Cloudy Nights - Excellent site containing reviews of astronomical equipment, articles, and numerous moderated general and specialist forums.  The best of its type on the web.

Mike Weasner's Mighty ETX site - The site for anyone with a Meade ETX telescope.  Much of the site is also useful to amateurs with other makes or models of telescope,

The Planets - A great little javascript program that predicts and animates transits, shadow transits, eclipses, and occultations of Jupiter's Galilean moons. Also shows the position of Saturn's moons. Can be run from the web or downloaded.

Calsky - Provides a complete customised list of what objects of interest are visible in the night sky for the next few hours or weeks. Sounds great, but unfortunately every time I try to log on it will only give me results the next hour or so because the site is so heavily used. See what you think.

Heavens Above - Marvellous site providing predictions of the positions of the ISS, Space Shuttle, Iridium satellites, comets, and other ephemeris.

THE MOON

Inconstant Moon - Site gives photographic maps of the moon with selectable types of geological or named features and landing sites superimposed. Provides tour of what to look out for on the Moon on any chosen night.

Moonlight On-line Lunar Atlas - An on-line photographic version of the famous Antonin Rukl's 'Atlas of the Moon'.

THE SUN

AuroraWatch UK - Warnings of aurorae visible in the British Isles, including e-mail alert service.

Spaceweather - News about the Sun-Earth environment including daily pictures and analysis of sunspot activity.

WEATHER

Clear Sky Clock- Gives an weather forecast with an astronomy bias for your local area of North American.

Metcheck Astronomy Weather Forecast  - Gives an weather forecast with an astronomy bias for your local area of the UK.  Simply key in your location, then go to 'Hobbies > Astronomy'.

TIME AND PLACE 

Greenwich Meantime - Very accurate clock. Also contains program to download to synchronise your computer's clock with GMT.

World Time Zone Finder - Type in your home town to the search function on this website, and it tells you the time difference ahead or behind GMT.  Useful for setting up planetarium programs and NightCal.

Longitude/Latitude finder  - Put in your address, or grid reference and out pops a map and other information, including the longitude and latitude of the chosen location. Useful for setting up 'GOTO' telescopes and numerous astronomy programs.

Magnetic/True North difference - For a given longitude and latitude this tells the user the difference between magnetic north and true north. Useful for finding true north on 'GOTO' telescopes where Polaris is obscured or when setting up in daylight.

SECONDHAND EQUIPMENT

Astromart - Online astronomical version of Exchange and Mart for the US.  It cost $12 to register.

UK Astronomy Buy & Sell - Online astronomical version of Exchange and Mart for the UK and Eire.

 

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  Programs to Download

 

 

Encyclopaedia Galactica - A good do-it-all program. Not necessarily the best program around for any one function, but provides integration between a planetarium, observation planning and observation logging. (Freeware)

Virtual Moon Atlas - Very good moon map program giving a information about interesting features to be seen on any day and detailed photographs of each feature. (Freeware)

OBSERVATION LOGGING

Astrobyte - Large program (greater than 19Mb) that provides a great observing log system. (Freeware)

The Simple Observing Log - Much smaller, simple observing log system. (Freeware)

The Ultimate Messier Object Log - Immodestly titled, but excellent observation logging system for Messier objects. (Freeware)

OBSERVATION PLANNING

Astronomy Lab - Predicts a whole host of astronomical ephemerides including eclipses, meteor showers, and the position of planets and their moons. Now long in the tooth, but still useful. (Shareware)

Astroplanner - Superb program for observation planning.  Includes features such as when an object will be visible, what it should look like in a range of viewfinders, an observation logging system, and GOTO telescope control. Registration is cheap and brings with it an enormous range of extra catalogues and great technical support. (Shareware)

Mars Previewer 2.01 - Shows what Mars will look like through a telescope to help identify major features.  Link goes straight to download. Note:-Take care when downloading from other sources as some known to be infected with virus. (Freeware)

Moonphase - Neat little program that sits in the taskbar of your desktop and displays the present phase of the moon. (Shareware)

NightCal - Provides a handy printable night-by-night monthly calendar with Sun rise and set, twilight, Moon rise and set, and lunar phase, age and point of libration.  Also gives a résumé of planetary conjunctions and the visibility of the inferior planets.  Co-authored by yours truly. (Freeware)

The Planets - A great little program that predicts and animates transits, shadow transits, eclipses, and occultations of Jupiter's Galilean moons. Also shows the position of Saturn's moons. Can be run from the web or downloaded. (Freeware)

Planet Visibility - Shows how high above the horizon any planet will be at any time and date. Also gives a good display of how large the planet will appear.  (Freeware)

PLANETARIA

Sky Charts - Cartes Du Ciel - Impressively powerful planetarium software with telescope control and editable custom horizon.  You can download numerous catalogues and extras from the Web (Freeware)

Skychart III - Good planetarium software with telescope control and realistic graphics.  A quick planetarium program for a laptop.  (Non-time limited demo)

Skymap Pro - Powerful planetarium software with telescope control and editable custom horizon. (Non-time limited demo)

Stellarium  - Beta release of new visually stunning planetarium software with gorgeous horizon graphics.  No extensive deep sky catalogues yet  and no print of save functions.  I'd keep and eye on this one because, if they add the catalogues and look and feel customisation of Sky charts (below), this will be awesome. (Freeware)

Imaging

PHD Guiding - Nice little piece of autoguiding software for webcams and CCD cameras. (Freeware)

QC Focus - Neat program to help with focussing webcams and CCD cameras. Front page and software are in French.  However, if you read the English Documentation, it shows you how to get the program to display in English.  (Freeware)

Registax - The bees knees for stacking and image processing of webcam images.  Very powerful, but a pretty steep learning curve. (Freeware)

 

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  Software Libraries

 

 

Astrotips - Very large, well laid out library of astronomical software.  The best on the web, but can be a little slow at times.

 

Dan Bruton's Astronomy Software   - Nice collection of Astronomy software from a wide range of sources.

 

Nine Planets Astrosoftware - see above.

 

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  Discussion Forums

 

 

Cloudy Nights - Numerous general and specialist forums (moderated)

 

sci.astro.amateur - Wide ranging amateur astronomy forum (unmoderated).

 

NJ Nightsky - Well used forums on a range of amateur astronomy subjects (American) (moderated).

 

Society for Popular Astronomy forums - Well used forums on a range of amateur astronomy subjects (British) (moderated).

 

UK Astro Imaging - Well used forums centred around astrophotography  (British) (moderated).

 

IceInSpace Forum - Nothing to do with ice!  Well used forums on a range of amateur astronomy subjects (Australian) (moderated).

 

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  Astronomical Societies

 

 

The Astronomical League (US)

British Astronomical Association (UK)

Federation of Astronomical Societies (UK) a

Royal Astronomical Society (UK)

Society for Popular Astronomy  (UK)

Campaign for Dark Skies - Run by the BAA, this organisation does what it says on the tin. 

International Dark-Sky Association - Great resource for helping fight nuisance lighting and light pollution.

 

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If any of the links on this page are broken, or you wish to suggest links to other useful web resources, please let us know by e-mailing us at nightcal@hotmail.co.uk 

(NB: for security reasons, e-mails with no subject heading will not be opened).

 

Last updated - 28th April 2007

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Copyright© 2005-2007 Michael Morris