Skychart (Cartes du Ciel) – explore and map the skies

July 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm (Maths and science) (, , , , , , , )

When I was little, I always happened to wonder about the millions of stars which light up the night sky. I needed to be a astronomer some day, and I wanted to buy a telescope. Anyway, I couldn’t have enough time to do it. Anyways, for the people who are armature astronomers, the skychart is an excellent program.

Skychart 3 alpha running on my fedora 11

Skychart 3 alpha running on my fedora 11

It renders sky of any time of the day, at any location of earth (or anywhere), at any angle using the supplied data with the program. As you can see in the screen shot above, you can rotate, select,zoom any star object in the map to gain information about it. The Field of Vision (FOV) can be changed, deciding the angle you want to look at (the pane to the right). The standard markers like equatorial coordinates, galactic coordinates etc… are on the left pane. Did I tell you that this program can show sky from 3000BC to 3000AD?

As you know, the galaxies contain huge amount of star objects so it’s not possible to render everything in the data files. Program settings allow to change what you want to see… it could be galaxies, nebula or even asteroids. Powerful search functions enable to find desired object in seconds. The core of the program is built with freepascal and the GUI is built with lazarus.

The professional approach

Without just looking at the map, skychart has the ability to edit them, label objects and build a map from the scratch. It can conect with SQL databases and standard astronomy catalogue sites like CDS or ADC. It uses catgen to convert these to a format which is readable by skychart. You can add a telescope (manual or automatic) to the program, and process the data directly from it. (These data can be sent to SQL databases too).

Additionally, program can predict a whole astronomical calendar.. eclipses, twilight, sun-rise, comets etc…

A fascinating feature is the night vision mode. This is heavily required when you looking at the stars from naked eye. (You loose sensitivity in dark if you see a bright light for some seconds). You can visit their homepage for more details from this link.

Skychart running on night vision mode

Skychart running on night vision mode



For Fedora,suse, mandriva people type in terminal as root

yum install skychart

For ubuntu,mint,debian use

sudo apt-get skychart

Or you can go to sourforge download page to download what is best for you.


Anyways, the Version 3 was released late, so you may get beta versions with above method. The source code for the latest version can be downloaded from this link.

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