So I haven’t done a “free software for writers” post in a while because, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve kind of run out of software that I use that I can plausibly label as “for writers”. If I do think of another writing-related package I will certainly post it, but I didn’t want to stop writing about free software until then, so I’ve decided to branch out and just write about other programs that I’ve used or seen (other than well-known ones like Firefox or Thunderbird) that people might find interesting. Today’s software is Stellarium.
Stellarium is a cool little toy that shows a rendition of the sky from any set of coordinates. You can see stars, planets, constellations (with or without artistic drawings of what they represent), galaxies, nebulae, alien spacecraft, black holes, and Nemesis. (Okay, not really those last three.) You can zoom in and out of space and also run time simulations in which the sun, moon, and stars flash by at dizzying speeds, a la The Time Machine. In addition, Stellarium can be customized with one’s own deep space objects and whatnot, although I’ve never used this feature.
Stellarium would likely be of interest to amateur astronomers, kids who are into space (i.e., all of them), astrologers, and science teachers. Would-be interstellar navigators should also enjoy playing with it, although they might find Celestia more useful. (I’ll talk about Celestia some other time.) It’s also a very cool program for showing to people who think Linux is nothing but a command line interface and the vi editor.
Stellarium is available for Linux, OS X, and Windows.