Starry Night® Times

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Welcome again to our monthly newsletter with features on exciting celestial events, product reviews, tips & tricks, and a monthly sky calendar. We hope you enjoy it!


A Few of My Favorite Things

Starry Night® 6.0 has arrived with a long list of neat new features. I’ve had a chance to play with it for a couple of weeks, and would like to share with you the things I particularly like about this new version.

By way of background, I’ve been an amateur astronomer for decades, and a Starry Night® user since version 2.1 in 1999. I’m a very active visual observer, interested in every sort of object I can see in the sky: Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, comets, double stars, variable stars, and deep sky objects. I have been a user of Starry Night® on a daily basis for the last 7 years, both to plan my own observations and to help others. When I started to work for Starry Night® last year, I discovered all kinds of things in the program which I’d never seen or used, despite heavy use. Like any powerful piece of software, Starry Night® is many-faceted and serves different functions for different users. For now, I’m going to concentrate on the new features which I’m particularly excited about, the ones that impact my own observing.

Event Finder and Reminder

The first thing I noticed when I first started up 6.0 was the Daily Event Reminder, literally in my face. This alerts you to events happening today. It proved its value that very first day. In the evening I had some friends over to observe, and I knew that Ganymede’s shadow was in transit across the face of Jupiter because Starry Night® had told me so that morning.

Aside from this up-front reminder, the Event Finder provides a powerful tool for predicting current and upcoming events.

Rather than a pre-cooked SkyCalendar, you get to choose what events you want to display. At present, these include lunar phases, Jovian moon events, lunar and solar eclipses, meteor showers, and planetary events. My Secret Source tells me that more types of event will be added in the future.

For a QuickTime video demonstrating this new feature, please click here.

Observing Lists

While earlier versions of Starry Night® have had a planning tool, it had some serious limitations, notably that there was no easy way to move the events you missed in one night’s observations forward to the next night. The new Observing List feature fixes that.

You can generate any number of personal observing lists for any class of object. These can be general lists (such as all the Messier objects), or very specific lists (all the Messier objects visible in my 4-inch refractor tonight between 8 pm and midnight). Or you can take a general list and have Starry Night® display a sub-list of the objects, say, only those visible tonight that rise above 30° altitude. These lists can be viewed on your laptop screen in the field, or exported to a text program for printing out.

For a QuickTime video demonstrating this new feature, please click here.

Chart Printing

Starry Night®’s chart printing hasn’t changed much over the years. We decided it was time for a serious overhaul. There are now a number of different print setting formats, plus, as always, the option to use your current settings. I’ve used up a lot of trees printing charts in Starry Night® in different scales; now there is a new three-pane printing format which allows you to print three different views on the same page.

You can set the scale of each of these panes to anything you want, for example one can show the naked eye view, one the view in your 10x50 binoculars, and one in your telescope’s low power eyepiece.

Each view can be individually flipped so as to take account of star diagonals. You can have everything you need for a star-hop on a single sheet of paper.

For a QuickTime video demonstrating this new feature, please click here.

Object Descriptions

Are you as tired as I am of those generic descriptions of objects when you click the Info button? Well, we have added over 400 new object descriptions: bright stars, nearby stars, double stars, variable stars, and deep sky objects. I’m especially fond of these because, well shucks, I wrote most of them! Rather than giving a lot of astrophysical gobbledygook, I’ve concentrated on what interests me as an amateur astronomer about these objects and, specifically, how they look through typical amateur telescopes.

I’ve tried to distill a lot of my personal observing experience into these descriptions. The features I've discussed are available in Starry Night® Pro, Pro Plus Version 6 and AstroPhoto Suite. I hope you like them!

Geoff Gaherty
Geoff has been a life-long telescope addict, and is active in many areas of visual observation; he is a moderator of the Yahoo "Talking Telescopes" group.

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Other New Features in Starry Night® Version 6

Pronunciation Guide
[Available in CSAP, Enthusiast, Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Some astronomical names can be a little difficult to pronounce. For example, the constellation Boötes is pronounced “boo-OH-tees” not “Boots” or “Booties”. In some cases careful pronunciation may be necessary to avoid embarrassment as in the case of Uranus, which is pronounced “Yoor-a-nus”, not “Your-anus”.

The pronunciation guide in Starry Night® will help you learn how to correctly pronounce the names of hundreds of celestial objects from different categories such as stars, constellations and planets. You hear the proper pronunciation of the object’s name through your computer speakers.

To pronounce an object's name, right click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) and select Pronounce from the object’s contextual menu. The Pronounce menu item will only be visible if a pronunciation file for the selected object exists in Starry Night®. An object’s name can also be pronounced in the "General Layer" of the Info pane by selecting Show Info from the objects contextual menu.

The Starry Night® pronunciation guide is a handy reference to help you win some friendly arguments at your next astronomical gathering.

Note: The correct pronunciation of names (even those with historical and mythological roots) can always be debatable.

For a QuickTime video demonstrating this new feature, please click here.


Moon Surface Feature Outlines
[Available in Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Turn on the outlines of craters, mountains, valleys and other prominent features on the moon’s surface to help you instantly recognize hundreds of geological features of interest.

Note: Surface feature outlines are only available for the Moon. However, location markers are available for Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth.

Starry Night® allows you to search for and identify thousands of predefined locations and features on the surface of the Earth or any other rocky planet or moon where surface data is available. For example, you can zoom in on the Moon and flag all of the Apollo Moon landing sites or display the location of all the astronomical observatories on Earth.

Starry Night® can display location markers and surface feature outlines. It is important to distinguish between a marker and an outline. A marker places a flag or pole on the surface of a planet to identify a location or feature. An outline draws a contour around a surface feature.

To display markers and outlines, you should first zoom in on the object of interest. This will allow you to see the markers and outlines. Right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on the object and select Markers and Outlines... from the contextual menu to adjust which markers or features are highlighted.

For a QuickTime video demonstrating this new feature, please click here.


Over 20 3D Space Mission Probes
and their Mission Trajectories
[Available in Enthusiast, Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Follow the actual path of space probes sent to explore the mysteries of our solar system. Explore interplanetary space missions and relive some of the spectacular flybys of:

  • Cassini
  • Deep Impact Flyby
  • Deep Impact Impactor
  • Deep Space 1
  • Galileo
  • Giotto
  • Hayabusa
  • Huygens
  • Mars Express
  • Mars Odyssey
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
  • NEAR
  • New Horizons
  • Opportunity
  • Pioneer 10
  • Pioneer 11
  • Spirit
  • Rosetta
  • Stardust
  • Ulysses
  • Venus Express
  • Voyager 1
  • Voyager 2

Space probes are listed in the Find Pane under Space Missions. The info (i) button listed beside each space probe provides you with a brief overview of the probe’s mission.

Check out our expanded Favorites Library, which now includes over 25 Favorite (.snf) files that easily illustrate the mission paths of New Horizons, Cassini and more.


New 3-D Models for Comets, Asteroids and Satellites
[Available in Enthusiast, Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Zoom in close for 3-D views of Comet Tempel-1, asteroid Geographos, Iridium satellites and more. Starry Night® now supports 3DS models, allowing for the display of irregularly shaped 3-dimensional objects such as:

  • Amalthea
  • Castalia
  • Deimos
  • Epimetheus
  • Geographos
  • Hyperion
  • Ida
  • Iridium Satellites
  • Phobos
  • Toutatis
  • Tempel 1


Alternate Earth, Moon and Mars Surface Images
[Available in Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Change the face of the Earth, Moon or Mars in an instant. Right-click (Windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac) on the Earth to choose from such images as: Earth at Night, Pathfinder, Topographic or Topopolitical.

For a QuickTime video demonstrating this new feature, please click here.


Photorealistic Panoramas
[Available in Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Earth: Enjoy the stars from new vantage points such as Detroit, Firenzie, Jordan Valley, Phillip Island, Hoopa Valley, Medicine Wheel or Winter Observatory.

Moon: Taken by the Apollo Astronauts when they visited the Moon between 1969 and 1972, these amazing panoramas were assembled by Mike Constantine from several separate NASA photos obtained from Kipp Teague, the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, and The Lunar and Planetary Institute. Includes 11 panoramas of the Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15,16 and 17 landing sites. You can purchase beautiful print posters of these and other images from

Mars: Incorporating the latest data from the Mars Rover Spirit, watch the sunset from Gusev Crater.

Clouds: Mimic atmospheric conditions with thunderstorms, cirrus or cumulus clouds.

Animated: Enjoy the canopy of stars overhead as a summer breeze whispers through the meadow grass.

OpenGL 2.0 is required for some of the more juicy eye-candy features like the shaded sky, animated grass and fast AllSky rendering at wide FOV. Otherwise, OpenGL 1.4 is sufficient.


Satellite Tracking
[Available in Pro, AstroPhoto, Pro Plus]

Track the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle and hundreds of other satellites with your robotic telescope.

Satellite tracking: Right-click (Ctrl-click on the Mac) on any satellite in the main window and choose Track from the satellite’s contextual menu. Your telescope will then slew to, center on and track the satellite you selected. The satellite will only be tracked if your telescope is capable of slewing at the rate the satellite is traveling.

Note: Satellite tracking is currently only available for Macintosh users using the Meade LX200/RCX400 series of telescopes.

Linda Fung
Marketing Director, Imaginova™

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Constellation in Focus: Cygnus

Constellation Map: Cygnus

NGC 6960 & NGC 6992, the West and East Veil Nebulas, are part of the Cygnus loop, the remains of a supernova that exploded over 100,000 years ago. Two other sections, NGC 6995 and 6979 are close by.

M29 is an unimpressive open cluster, notable only in that it was one of the original discoveries of Charles Messier.

NGC 6819 is a small open cluster with about two dozen stars from 10th to 12th magnitude within a 5' circle. Its discovery in 1784 is attributed to Caroline Herschel.

Deneb, which marks the tail of the swan, is one of the 20 brightest stars in the night sky. Just three degrees away lies NGC 7000, the North American Nebula, so-called because of its obvious shape. This is an active star forming region and quite large, though it's difficult to see without the aid of astrophotography.

M39 is an open cluster, and is a nice binocular object with 30 or so stars spread over its seven lightyear diameter. It's also "pretty close" to Earth, at "just" 800 lightyears.

Finally, NCG 6826, the Blinking Nebula, gets its name from an odd phenomenon: its central star appears to blink on and off when you look toward and away from it quickly.

Sean O'Dwyer
Starry Night® Times Editor

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Sept. 2006

New Version 6 - Save $20 on upgrades!
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Free Download

Starry Night® Version 6 Videos

Explore some of the valuable new features of Starry Night® Version 6 in this series of videos from our support site.



Pedro Braganca
Content Director,
Starry Night®


Free Download
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Tips & Tricks

Starry Night® Support Center

View Starry Night® movies, download manuals and other files from the Starry Night® download area of our support site.

Pedro Braganca
Content Director,
Starry Night®

Tips Tricks
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Sky Events

Sunday, Sept,3

SMART-1 Impact on Moon; see this site for details of a call for ground-based observations.

Tuesday, Sept. 5
7:00 PM – Venus passes less than 1° north of Regulus.

Thursday, Sept. 7
Full Moon and partial lunar eclipse for observers Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

Thursday, Sept. 14
Last Quarter Moon.

Thursday, Sept. 21
H. G. Wells' 140th Birthday (1866)

Friday, Sept. 22
New Moon and, for observers in South America and Africa, an annular solar eclipse.

Saturday, Sept. 23
12:03 AM – Autumnal Equinox.

Saturday, Sept. 30
First Quarter Moon

All times shown are U.S. Eastern Time.

Sky Events
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Astrophoto of the Month

Astrophoto of the Month

Bridge Mountain Moon

This month’s winning photo, taken by Michel Hersen, shows the moon rising over Bridge Mountain in Zion National Park. Canon EOS Digital Camera with a Sigma Zoom Lens using an ISO of 800 and an exposure of 1/1600th second.

PHOTO OF THE MONTH COMPETITION: We would like to invite all Starry Night® users to send their quality astronomy photographs to be considered for use in our monthly newsletter. Featured submissions (best of month) will receive a prize of $25 USD. Please read the following guidelines and see the submission e-mail address below.

  • Format: Digital images in either JPG, GIF or TIFF format.
  • Size: 700 pixels wide maximum.
  • File size should be less than 2 MB.
  • Include a caption: Your full name, location where photo was taken and any interesting details regarding your photo or how you took it. Please be brief.
  • Important notes: We may edit captions for clarity and brevity. We reserve the right to not use submissions. In submitting your image or images to Imaginova, you agree to allow us to publish them in all media -- on the Web or otherwise -- now and in the future. We'll credit you, of course. Most important, you'll have the satisfaction of sharing your experience with the world!
  • Send images, following the above guidelines, to (by sending an image you agree to the above terms, including Imaginova’s right to publish your photos). Please do not send .ZIP files as they will not reach us.

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Pre-order version 6 for a Free Planisphere!

Details about Special Offers

*Save $20 off Version 6 Upgrades!

To redeem your $20 instant savings on your Starry Night® Enthusiast version 6 upgrade, Pro version 6 upgrade, Pro Plus version 6 upgrade or AstroPhoto Suite (2006 edition) upgrade, you must enter coupon code sn20v6 in the coupon code field of the Starry Night® shopping cart (the coupon code field appears on the Payment Page of the shopping cart. ) The discounted price will only appear in the Starry Night® shopping cart but not on the product detail page. Minimum purchase of $45.00 USD is required. Offer expires September 30, 2006 11:59 pm EST. Not valid on previous purchases.

**Pre-order Starry Night® Version 6 by August 22, 2006 for a Free Planisphere!

To receive your FREE Orion Star Target Constellation and Celestial Object Finder with your pre-order of Starry Night® Complete Space and Astronomy Pack (2006 edition), Starry Night® Enthusiast version 6, Starry Night Pro version 6, Starry Night® Pro Plus version 6 or AstroPhoto Suite (2006 edition), YOU MUST ADD the FREE Orion Star Target Constellation and Celestial Object Finder from the "May we also suggest" section of your shopping cart before Checkout. Offer expires August 22, 2006 11:59 pm EST. All prices are quoted in USD.

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