Monday, October 5, 2015

This one is for Paula and the girls....

This is the great "freebie" program that will put a very sophisticated planetarium on your home computer, and show you all those planets that you asked about. And if you click on this link, you can download it.

I apologize for the delay in answering you, Paula. I get into a computer problem here, and I forget to look at anything that isn't helping to solve the problem, and I hope you didn't think I'd been ignoring your question - I just didn't find it until tonight, after I finally solved the big problem I was having here with the old computer.

You and those charming young ladies that I saw at the medical lab the other day will probably really like this program. You can become your own astronauts with it, and visit places around the solar system, or even further away. It will take a little time, perhaps, to get familiar with it, but it's quite easy once you try it a few times. And it's fun!

There are some easy keyboard shortcuts for navigating it around the sky. For example, if you click on an object, and then hit the spacebar on the keyboard, it centers that object in the middle of the screen for you. then you can enlarge it by scrolling the wheel on the mouse. To go to one of the other planets, or the Moon, or even the moons of those other planets, use the keyboard shortcut of "CTRL + G". To return to home base on Earth, use "CTRL + H", and to capture a Screenshot of it, use "CTRL + S". To zoom in or out, use the forward slash or backward slash, or simply roll the mouse wheel back and forth.

When you are first setting it up, you need to open this window, to set your location by scrolling down through that list to the right of the little map to find your home city, so that the objects in the sky will look in the program the same as they would look if you walked outside and looked up at them directly on a clear night ( or day).

In this window, you can choose different "landscapes" for the different places you might go. This becomes your "default landscape" until you change it again. The list along the left of the little window shows the choices. The one for Mars can show a part of one of the rovers in the bottom of the image if you wish.

If you mouse-over those many little controls along the bottom taskbar, their functions appear above the bar to tell what they do. You can add or remove the atmosphere and fog, or add and remove the ground itself, in case you want a better view of something that just set below the horizon, or is behind a tree there. You can also locate satellites like the International Space Station and locate its latest flight path, or view locations from which there may be meteor showers, with occasional "shooting stars" zipping through the picture. It's a fun program, and I hope you folks really enjoy it. To change the view, all you do is use the mouse to click on it and drag it around, and you can look anywhere around the horizon, or above it. If you get it messed up, just use "CTRL +H" to reset it back to the home view's default image again. So have fun!

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