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12/14/2014

Starry Night Pro version 6.3.3 vs Starry Night Pro 7.1.1




I believe I have touched on this before, but I wanted to do a review on the Starry Night Pro software. I have two versions, version 6 which I received about 8 years ago or so, and version 7 which was purchased just after it came out. I guess that is my first mistake, buying new software right after it comes out.  It ended up that in many ways, getting version 7.0 right after launch met you became a beta tester for the developers and for Stimulation Corporation, the company that owns Starry Night Pro. So before I begin I want to explain what I use this software for.  My main purpose in using this software is print out finder charts for objects that I am going after. I find that I usually am able to print off a larger finder chart showing the objects for the evening (in 6.3.3) and then closer finder charts that allow for even a more refined star hopping experience. Now there are other software out there that will do this, Astro Planner, Deep Sky Planner and Sky Tools 3 to name a few. I have used Astro Planner but found that it does me little good since it only allows me to look at limited objects that I can find and document in my sleep.  Perhaps one day I will expend the funds to  try a few of these out, but for now, Starry Night Pro has always delivered for me.

Here is an example, kinda of of how I use Starry Night Pro. The charts I print I tend to have a white background with black ink for the stars and objects to save on ink.  I have recently started uploading images like this to DropBox and then accessing them via a portable laptop/tablet combo in Windows 8 and that is heavily shielded in rhyolith to keep the light down. I transfer my observing file from DropBox since I usually do not have internet access or limited access in the field and then it allows me to view them like this image:


Clicking on the image will allow you to see it larger I believe. Anyway, I can then zoom in even closer to finish my star hops and be at the object. It is convenient and I have been doing this for 8 years now very successfully. I usually use Starry Night as a back up for logging my observations, keeping my main copy in an Excel spreadsheet for several reasons. I like the log feature and it works nice as a backup, and some would and do like it as a primary logging method.

So everything has been going great when I got an email about version 7 coming out. With a deep discounted price, I bit the bullet and got into the market by buying version 7.  Well, I learned quickly that I was a beta tester for version 7. I could not get to objects, I could not print star charts as the printing command crashed the program. I filed some reports and decided that version 7 just wasn't for me and went back to 6.3.3.  I stay away from the 6.4.3 upgrade as it freezes or crashes frequently on me and so to avoid that, I stay at version 6.3.3., my happy place.

So flash forward to this weekend. I have a new computer and I decided to try out 7.1.1 as I know the crash issue had been addressed.  Well, I loaded 7.1.1 up and I now got to my object, can print a FOV but the object, even when clicked on, doesn't appear on the finderchart.  Worthless still to me. I have shared that feedback with the developers and hope they have a fix for it soon. While see as I believe they respond, but usually not quick enough. I HOPE, more than anything that this is a user error on my part and I am simply doing something wrong. However, I cannot write click, to bring the object up and print that way. I have to go to File, Print and then set up my 3 pane panel for 3 FOV of view I use and print.  No print preview anymore either which disappoints me.

So though I highly recommend version 6.3.3 of Starry Night, I still cannot and strongly won't recommend version 7.1.1 until a visual observer like myself can use that program for what we want. The observing log feature is gone in 7.1.1 and I find it next to impossible to click on an object and have the information for that object come up unless it is a star. I MUST do a search for the objects I want, even if I know where they are in the sky.  So version 7.1.1 is in my book, still a work in progress and I highly recommend that a visual observer does NOT, I repeat DOES NOT purchase version 7.0 to 7.1.1 because there is still far too much missing and that needs to be added back in to make this a program worthy of the visual observer. I will continue to run and love version 6.3.3 and use it faithful until the day comes when the developers feel that we who are lonely visual observers, still have a need for the features in 6.3.3 and they are put into 7.1.1 and versions there after. It is a shame because as a science teacher I have used version 6.3.3 to teach some wonderful concepts to my students and love the capture of the moon phases and having my students identify the correct phase to the time of the month and then figure out when the cycle is going to repeat for the next six months. Lots of stuff to do, and I will use version 6.3.3 for that. It is my sincere hope that one day I can recommend version 7.1.1 and above for use in the field for visual amateurs and for the classroom. Right now, honestly, I just don't see the use of it and feel I wasted my money in upgrading. The team is responsive so I do have hope that in time things will be corrected.

Jay 

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