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Date: 7-31-2001
Price: various
Requirements: Palm OS compatible PDA
Description: Various astronomy related software packages for the Palm OS.

Review

I have a Palm IIIxe. I used to have a Palm IIIx, but it bit the cosmic dust. I have been a "user" for about two years now. I have it for work related stuff, and for personal scheduling info. About six months ago I became interested in astronomy, so naturally I checked into the availablility of Palm software. To my surprise there is a huge assortment of utilities and general information text files available. I would like to name a few I have been using, as well as let everyone know how I use them. I would like to mention the fact that I use the device like some use their starmaps, etc. except I don't have to use a red flashlight to see it with! Nice. 

2Sky 1.2.2- by in2space.com 

This is the one I use the most while I am out observing. It is a very fast and easy to access graphic program that shows the sky in a planetarium style. It is low on info, but very quick to help me whenever I get turned around. There are a few mistakes in the magnitude identifications, such as M98 spiral galaxy in Virgo is listed as magnitude 1.01!! Boy did I look for that one for a while until I decided it was supposed to be mag 10.1 instead. The zoom factor is simple at 180, 60, and 25. The movement is done through the up/down rocker switch, and the addressbook button for left, and the ToDo list button for right. Of course you can put in your location and time and it will track along. It has a good list of popular worldwide cities to choose from when traveling, and even allows you to call one "Home" for quicker return. There is a nice find feature as well called the CATALOG. It is a list of popular 
objects. You just tap one and it shows it to you in the center of view. There is no coordinate system offered, so you cannot tap on a star or Messier object and get a RA/Dec coordinate. Bummer. This program is shareware and costs $29.95 at PalmgearHQ. in2space.com also makes a program called 2red that allows you to see everything in red colors on a color palm unit. (which I don't have BTW) 

Astronomy Info v1.10- by Michael Heinz (michaelheinz@att.net) 

This is another good quick and easy program that is very useful when in the field. It is a simple single-screen chart that shows rise/set times, RA/Dec coordinates, and Alt/Az coordinates for the planets, Moon and Sun. You can see when the Moon is going to screw up your astrophotogrphy session, or when Uranus is going to rise, etc. The database runs off of your time zone, and Lat/Long coordinates. It is more accurate than my desktop planetarium program, so I use it more often. You can give it a date and it will tell you when these celestial events are scheduled to take place. The Moon gives phase information as well. Another real nice feature is the "Sdereal Time" catagory screen. It converts any date to julian day and time. When I am doing variable star observing, I really like this for reports and such. Unfortunatly I haven't been able to find this software on any internet palm-related sites since I downloaded it. I belive it was freeware, but I can't relly remember. Try the email listed above. 

Planetarium v 2.0.4- by Hofer Software (e-mail planets@aho.ch) 

Astronomers are not the most original bunch, as is evident by the title here, but these guys have made a application that is truly astonishing. It is one of the best astronomy programs I have ever used even up against the big desktop packages. This is a huge program for the palm at 173K. It is so packed with features that it would take another FORUM to dedicate to the full review. All I can say is if I want to find where a minor planet, or comet is, I go here. There are some really snazzy features such as reverse-field views for help with star charts and overhead work. A real compass view is super for information regarding the position of any planet with respect to other solar system bodies, and the Moon or Sun. Too many nice things to mention. The downside is the speed. It is fairly slow, although I have never had any difficulty using it. The try-before-you-buy concept is nice too. This is one you will really want to register at $24.00. 

There are several more programs I use, and of course the mandatory Caldwell and Messier List text files are available for free download from MemoWare. AvantGo has all the great astronomy and space related periodicals to use on the palm equipment as well. If you own a PDA then you are probably already using some of these programs, but if you don't, then you might want to consider these devices as another tool in the quest for a better understanding of our place in the cosmos. 

Submitted by David - davidr@wf.net - USA

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