Observing Tools

Observing Websites, Tools, and Apps

**NOTE: Please use all links at own risk. At the time of writing, these apps all had free versions and seemed useful. The links presented are not an endorsement and RAC received no compensation for the listing.

Planetarium Software, Charts and Observing Info

Planetarium software creates the sky on your phone. In many cases, you can point your phone or table and see what stars and constellations you are looking at. Zoom in and you can see the deep sky wonders that are unlocked through binoculars, a telescope, or astrophotography.

  • Cartes de Ciel – Free open source planetarium program for Linux, Mac & Windows.
  • Stellarium – Great planetarium program! Free desktop Windows, Mac & Linux, iOS (paid) & Andriod (paid)
  • The SkyLive – online planetarium (web only)
  • SkySafari – 3 versions  with varying levels of features (sometimes free up to paid), Mac OS, iOS & Andriod
  • Star Walk 
  • TriAtlas – free iOS app with stars up to mag 12.6, galaxies up to mag 15.5, planetary nebulae, clusters, double stars and variable stars

Weather Related – Clouds, Temps, Seeing and Transparency

For many locations, including Raleigh, weather is the great unknown. We use a multitude of apps and weather models when deciding the setup our equipment or hold an outdoor event.

Planets & Moons

Planets rise and set and at different times and have different visibility through the year. Likewise, Earth’s moon is a fascinating study which looks a little bit different every night based on the lunar phase.

Observation Planning

At some point, you realize you’ve seen the Orion nebula forty two times and want to start tracking what you observed, or planning your sessions if you are working towards completing a list. These tools can help you plan and document your night.

Star Walk 2

Planetarium Software and Observing Info

Planetarium software creates the sky on your phone. In many cases, you can point your phone or table and see what stars and constellations you are looking at. Zoom in and you can see the deep sky wonders that are unlocked through binoculars, a telescope, or astrophotography.

Web
Stellarium – Free desktop planetarium app
The SkyLive – A bit more advanced – Viewing maps and details including transient objects like asteroids and comets in addition to planets.

iOS
SkySafari
Star Walk 2
Sky Week

Android
Sky Week

Scope Nights

Weather Related – Clouds, Temps, Seeing and Transparency

For many locations, including Raleigh, weather is the great unknown. We use a multitude of apps and weather models when deciding the setup our equipment or hold an outdoor event.



Web
Clear Sky Clock
Clear Outside
Weather Underground
East Coast Water Vapor Loop
Hourly Weather Forecast Graph

iOS
Scope Nights
Clear Outside
Good to Stargaze

Android
Clear Outside
Good to Stargaze

Planets & Moons

Planets rise and set and at different times and have different visibility through the year. Likewise, Earth’s moon is a fascinating study which looks a little bit different every night based on the lunar phase.

iOS
Moon Globe
Jupiter’s Moons
Saturns’s Moons

Observation Planning

At some point, you realize you’ve seen the Orion nebula forty two times and want to start tracking what you observed, or planning your sessions if you are working towards completing a list. These tools can help you plan and document your night.

Deep Sky Planner
Astro Planner

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