There are a host of software companies claiming to have the top of the line program for simulating the galaxy and providing the most user friendly experience, which makes it difficult for consumers to make a decision on where to invest their hard earned money. For those seeking a powerful program to use alongside their computerized telescopes the decisions become even more complex since factors such as compatibility and being portable are introduced as potential problems or setbacks. Since the average piece of astronomy software can reach prices of one hundred dollars or more, it is critical find the best fit for each particular consumer in mind. The focus of this article is the software application SkyMap Pro 11, and how it stacks up against the competition.
SkyMap Pro released their eleventh version in March of 2007, and those familiar with the software responded with primarily mixed reviews. Those who enjoyed the program in the past appreciated the added features packed within the exact same primary interface, while those who preferred the use of similar applications complained that not enough had changed to warrant an additional release.
After downloading the software and launching SkyMap Pro, the interface screens will almost instantly remind the user of a 1990’s type Windows experience. There are no flashy texts or stylish buttons to push; instead the appearance is fairly basic and unappealing. Some basic features are usable through shortcuts though, like zooming in on a particular region or customizing some basic options like what magnitude or colors of stars to show on the main map. To find any celestial object there is an input field where named stars and nebulas can be typed, and hopefully you’re good with spelling because mistakes do not grant partial credit in SkyMap Pro. Overall the version did not seem to have evolved hardly at all since the early releases back in the nineties, but then again it completed whatever function was required and is on par with other software applications within the genre.
Since many will also want to use SkyMap Pro with their telescopes, this appeared to be the true test of its capabilities. Those same simplistic features that frustrated users within their homes suddenly became much more beneficial. When given the command to locate a constellation both the telescope and SkyMap react accordingly, centering the desired location within the telescopes view most of the time. At first, the images were all off until the daylight savings time was manually adjusted; this was a bit of a disappointment that this primary function did not update automatically.
Other than that, my overall impressions of SkyMap Pro 11 were mostly positive. Although in need of a serious makeover, Skymap has an extensive database of additional updates to download and many of the other features found with the other top software offered within this genre. The low points were far outweighed by the good, and overall SkyMap Pro 11 is a solid choice for celestial viewing needs.