Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Star Honor Series: Equipment

Screenshot from Stellarium program.

If you're doing a Star Honor class, here's a really great software program your kids can download onto their laptops and home computers. If you're looking for a good star/planetarium kind of software to help you find objects to look at through your telescope and to show the kids what stars and other objects are, let me highly recommend a free download called Stellarium. It's really an amazing little star-gazing program.

You can use this program to show your kids how to plan their star-gazing for each evening. By setting the time and the coordinates of the place you'll be setting up your telescopes and you can see what stars will be out that night. The thing tracks planets and even helps you find satellites and figures out when there will be meteor showers. 

Most of your kids know enough about computers to use the simple interface that Stellarium uses and it does come with a help utility that explains things.  If you can hook up your laptop to a projector, it also makes a great tool for showing your students where objects in the sky are. The projected image shows a very realistic night sky, just like the kids will be seeing when they go out with the telescopes. It will show you which direction in which to look for things you want to observe.

It's really a marvelous tool and best of all for your Pathfinder Club's budget - it's free!  You can't beat that with a stick!  Download it at:

Tom King
(c) 2015

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