University Lowbrow Astronomers

No Charge Astronomy: Part I, A quick look at Freeware Astronomy Software.

by Mark S Deprest
Printed in Reflections: March, 2011.

A presentation and demonstration of a few Astronomy Software program that can be downloaded and used FREE of charge, a.k.a. Freeware. We will look at some of my favorites and most useful programs.

So, what is Freeware? Simply put it is software designed by people like you and I for people like you and I that cost nothing to download and use. Most of these programs are pretty simple and do one or two very specific things really well.

Safe download site:

The first couple of programs are very simply and specific, they do one or two things really well.

1. Messier Marathon (German) for a copy email me at msdeprest at comcast dot net I will send you a zip file of the program or you can do a “Google” search for “Messier Marathon” and download it from

This program will give you a text file of the proper observing order for a Messier Marathon any day of the year and any where in the world*.

*with user supplied co-ordinates

2. Jupiter ver.2 (French) for a copy or the link above.

This program shows you graphically the positions of the Galilean moons of Jupiter and the position of the GRS. The program also produces very nice spiral ephemeris charts (printable) of the Galilean moons positions for a user specified time period.

3. Mars Previewer II (USA) for a copy see the link above.

This program shows the face of Mars for a user specified place and time. (printable)

4. Virtual Moon Atlas ver. 5.0 (French) for a copy or the link above.

This is an impressive full feature Virtual Atlas of the Moon that no Lunatic should be without. Although the download time & size of the catalogs is a bit long & large (14 different catalogs of images & feature plus the program itself totals 645MB) (printable)

5. Stellarium ver. 0.10.2 (French) for a copy or the link above.

This a graphics laden planetarium program that is a great learning tool for beginners; and a wonderful program to display realistic skies any time and any where in the world. Many catalogs to download and add on, heavily graphic based so, it may take some time to download.

These programs are tested and bug and virus free to download and share. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. I have many other freeware programs, so this talk might become a series of 3 or 4 ... stay tuned.


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