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Scientific Astronomer from Wolfram Research: The World’s Most Sophisticated General Astronomy System

Published December 19, 1997

The calculating powers of Mathematica turn skyward with Scientific Astronomer, a unique software package that allows you to determine which constellations, planets, galaxies, and comets are visible from your location–pinpointing when and where to look for them. Extensive two- and three-dimensional graphic capabilities enable detailed charting of anything from regional star charts and planispheres to three-dimensional planetary views. The package determines optimal dates for the best naked-eye view of specific objects including stars, low-orbit satellites, and the asteroid Vesta.

Scientific Astronomer contains a wealth of searchable information about the properties and movements of over nine thousand stars and other objects. The package is fully programmable and allows you to add additional astronomical information.

  • Star Charts: Five types of charts are defined in Scientific Astronomer, including two wide-field star charts that allow you to zoom into any portion of the sky. All the charts can show star spectral colors, mesh lines, a skyline, the horizon line, and the Milky Way. The package provides for labeling constellations, stars, planets, deep-sky objects, and so on.

  • Planet Plots: Planet plotting is done in two- and three-dimensional forms. Surface features for Earth, the moon, Mars, and Jupiter are shown on the plots. Moons and their shadows are displayed for both Earth and Jupiter. Related functions allow you to produce planet-finder charts and planet-rise and set-timing charts.

  • Eclipses: Several functions are provided for calculating eclipses. These functions provide information about both solar and lunar eclipses. They are general enough to handle Galilean moon eclipses, occultation of stars by the moon, and transits of Mercury or Venus across the solar disk. You can produce umbra and penumbra track plots and perform accurate eclipse prediction.

  • Satellite Tracking: Satellite tracking features allow you to create track plots, make visibility predictions, and project satellite tracks onto star charts. You can even track the space station Mir!

Scientific Astronomer has many other features, including functions for sunrise, moonrise, and full moon; functions for adding new astronomical objects such as comets and satellites; and the ability to produce planisphere plates, planet charts, and solar system plots.

Scientific Astronomer is Mathematica 3 compatible, has an easy-to-use interface with palettes and buttons, and is fully integrated into Mathematica‘s comprehensive Help Browser system. It runs on both Windows and Unix platforms, and a Macintosh version will soon follow.

More information about Scientific Astronomer, as well as sample images and animations created by the software, is available.