Planetariums are good for watching stars (and taking naps). If you’re curious (or sleepy), and far away from any real planetarium, we suggest the Neave Planetarium, which allows you to explore the sky on your desktop.
One of the several flash-based features of Neave.com, programmer Paul Neave’s experimental widget “playground,” Neave Planetarium is as elegant as it is enlightening. Choose the location. Choose the time. Load some ambient tunes and look (scroll) up. If you see a star you like, point to it to find its name, magnitude (brightness as seen from Earth), distance from Earth and parent constellation. Such an interactive sky takes a lot of the complexity out of backyard astronomy. For instance, you can find where to look for Venus tonight—to the east, near the horizon—within two clicks. Of course, there’s no beating a real night sky, or even a real planetarium, but under neither of those can you click the stars.
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