KStars is a Space Simulator Software to View Space Objects, Compute Distance between space objects and plot graphs between various parameters. It provides an accurate simulation of the space as seen from the Earth. It shows 8 planets of solar system, 100 million stars, Sun, Moon, 13,000 other space objects and large number of asteroids, comets, satellites and supernova. You can choose any location from Earth for viewing the space and it will only show you exact view of the night sky as seen from that particular location. And the best part is you can view graphical stats of space on any date and time.
This free space simulation software provides numerous tools for astronomers and learners. You can add your own telescope and use it to view space objects. It also provides internet resources for each and every object present in this software. By right clicking on any object you can get all the information regarding to it either from Wikipedia or NASA’s Eclipse page.
There are tons of other free astronomy software out there, and KStars is among the best I have come across.
How to See Accurate Graphical Simulation of Night Sky on this Space Simulation Software:
It’s the core feature of KStars that it provides accurate position of various space objects such as planets, stars, constellations, asteroids, moon and others. It doesn’t matter whether you are using a Telescope or it’s inbuilt modules for viewing purpose. It will always show you accurate position and the best part is that you can view position of any particular object on any date and time.
You can calculate distance between two different objects through Angular Distance To option in the context menu that appears when you right-click on any object. You can then drag and draw a line to calculate distance between the objects.
From the toolbar you can select/de-select objects that you want to show in your view. For example, if you only want to see the planets in the sky then you can turn off other objects such as satellites, asteroids, constellations, etc through a toggle button that is provided for each object.
See NASA Resources for any Space Object:
Another interesting feature of KStars is that if you want to know more about a particular object from the view, simply right-click on it and under Information Resources menu choose various internet resources including Wikipedia and some NASA’s space research repositories.
When you click on any option it will open a webpage in your browser, showing all information about the object that you chose.
You can also see images for a particular space object by choosing Image Resources option in the same menu.
Set of Tools for Astronomers to Calculate, Plot, and Predict
This space simulation software is not limited to just view information about a particular space object. It provides set of powerful tools for astronomers to calculate, predict, and plot graph between various parameters. So, let’s find out what are the tools that KStars offers.
The calculator tool helps to calculate distances and converts them from one unit to another. In calculator tool, KStars provides time calculators, coordinates calculator, and converter. In time calculator section it provides Julian day, Sidereal time, Almanac, and Equinoxes & Solstices like tools for calculation.
The second section is Coordinate Converters, which contains Apparent, Horizontal and Ecliptic coordinate, angular distance and LSR velocity converter.
And in the third section is Solar System in which it provides planet coordinates and Conjunctions. In planet coordinates it shows the position of a particular planet from any location from the Earth that is chosen by you.
In each module it provides a batch mode option in which you can input parameters from a file. A file can be used to read more than one parameter that you want to calculate or convert.
The Sky Calendar tool helps you plot the planetary almanac of a planet during a year. You can specify a particular location from Earth and choose a planet whose almanac you want to plot on a graph. The graph has months in its vertical axis and universal time at horizontal axis.
Altitude vs Time Graph
This tool helps you plot a graph between altitude angle and time. You can choose any space object by clicking on Find Object button or type its name. Then hit the Plot button and it will immediately show you a plotted graph that you can analyze and print.
You can also choose any location, date and time on Earth to plot a graph between altitude and time.
This tool plots the solar system in a window with horizontal and vertical axes. The sun is at the center of the view, along with orbitals and planets revolving in them. You can view the position of planets and sun at any particular date and you can change the speed of rotation to see a fast simulation of solar system.
What’s up Tonight
This is a nice tool by which you can see the various aspects of space objects at a particular night. You can see sunset, sunrise time at any space object at any date and time and from any location on earth. Just select a category and corresponding matching object and it will show you full details of sun/moon’s rising and setting time on that object.
My Final Verdict
I really enjoyed using this space simulation software. It gives you a real simulation of night sky that for a moment you will feel that you are actually watching a live space or in a planetarium.
Though I am not an astronomy expert, but if you are looking for a space simulation software, then you may give KStars a try by downloading it from the link give below.