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The news before Xmas that Mars was at its closest for very many years prompted me to get down from the attic a long-time undisturbed telescope.
The night I chose was clear and very cold, and by the time I'd set it up on tripod I found my neck stiff, eyes watering and my spine uncomfortable. Enough discomfort to make me look in eBay to see what sort of price it would fetch.
Instead what caught my eye was a Meade reflector with built-in autostar finder, and above all...a digital eyepiece that relayed the image coupled with the remote control to your nice warm PC indoors.
Gloated a bit on this idea, but common sense prevailed. I still had to set it up in the cold outside, and put it all away again, and the next few cloudy days saw the idea dropped. I did also see somewhere I could hire a remote web connection and control/view using a distant telescope where skies were clearer than the UK.
But the large choice of recent photos taken in space, now on the web, dampened that idea as well.
What has nudged me to write this thread is a piece of S/W from a magazine cover CD. Now I don't usually bother with a cover CD,..from one a while ago I used a register cleaner, it told me I had 3 serious errors. It cleared one, and then said I needed to buy the upgrade to finish the job. Grrr!
The astronomy program I write about is called Starry Night and is on the cover CD of Computer Shopper May 2004. It gives a 360 degree view, it auto enters GMT, but you set your lat and long. It is indeed a full product. An upgrade is offered but not needed.
I loaded it off-line from the CD to my desktop, and I didn't like the way it went auto-on-line to offer registration. I think it's worth unplugging the modem beforehand if you don't want this. Last night I asked it to find Mars;- then went out and located it straight away.
This afternoon I put Starry Night on my laptop, hoping to use it tonight outside (temp60F). It identifies stars, planets, constellations (as picture or line), etc. It is more fiddly to load from CD offline, but possible. At 3pm I looked at the screen and wondered where the stars had gone? Forgot there aren't any that time of day.
We don't all have the same tastes, I know, but I'm finding this a new toy.
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