Astronomy Answers: AstronomyAnswerBook: Software

Astronomy Answers
AstronomyAnswerBook: Software


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1. Astronomical Software

This page answers questions about software that is related to astronomy. The questions are:

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1. Astronomical Software

As far as I know there is no generally available software with which you can do all of the astronomical calculations that I've done for this website.

Planetarium programs calculate the position of Sun, Moon, and planets for a particular location, date, and time that you choose, but they usually do not report things very different from that

For example, if you wish to calculate conjunctions between planets, with your own definition of what is a conjunction, then a planetarium program is not of much use to you.

Your wish to be able to apply your own definition of conjunctions is not shared by many people. That means that people who write publicly available astronomical software are unlikely to include that functionality in their programs.

I have experience with a small number of planetarium programs:

and of those only Redshift provides functionality to detect conjunctions. However, Redshift 5 calculates conjunctions between pairs of objects only, not between more than two objects. Also, it does not allow adjustment of what counts as a conjunction. For a list of planetarium software, see //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_planetariums#Planetarium_computer_software.

For my own calculations, I use a data processing package that some colleagues and myself developed. That package is not officially released, is not available on Windows, has no customer support, and is not especially easy to use. Its advantage is that you can write your own programs in it to calculate exactly what you want, but it takes a while before you learn how to use it.

Astronomers typically write their own computer programs, because the existing programs don't do what they need.



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Last updated: 2017-04-24