While working on ASTROSIM I found
desktop planetarium, a beautiful program that can simulate the night
sky. One especially useful feature are panorama horizons which, if
properly configured, can simulate the real landscape horizon also on a
potentially historically relevant site.
By 2010 I had joined the developing team and helped improving astronomical accuracy and some software issues:
- Bugfixing the "oldstyle" landscapes: Now you can use the panoramas as measurement images for accurate observation planning or also archaeoastronomical analyses. (for V0.10.6)
- refraction and extinction (2011, with Fabien; corrections for 0.13.1.)
- Minor contributions to ΔT (early 2013, most work by Alex Wolf and Victor Reijs). Some corrections for its correct application sequence for 0.14.
- Most of the German translations since about 2011.
- Differentiated symbols and colors for the DSO objects (cannot remember when we introduced it). Introduced Dark Nebulae (Barnard) and proportional symbols in 0.13.3, with minor improvements for 0.14.
- Landscape addenda (2013-10, for V0.13.0)
- A new "polygonal" landscape type (compatible to Cartes du Ciel). The presumably measured horizon polygon can even be mixed with the photo landscapes.
- Reduction of texture memory footprint for spherical landscapes by allowing to clip away the sky part above the highest point on the horizon.
- Addition of fog and a new "light pollution" layer for the spherical and fisheye landscapes
- Landscape can be polled for transparency at a particular direction. This will be used starting with 0.14, for landscape illumination on sites without atmosphere, and could be further used for accurate predictions of sunrise etc. on the respective landscape.
- Landscape gazetteer function (indicators for mountain peaks or similar landscape features) for 0.14.
- Building the MESA opengl32.dll library
as software-OpenGL 2.1 replacement library for incapable hardware (2013-12, for developing V0.13)
- A first implementation of comet tails (2013-12, for V0.13). Speedup (allowing to have hundreds of comets active) for V0.13.1, and improvements in visual quality for 0.13.2.
- Auto-detect user location by querying an IP/address lookup service at startup (since 0.13.1).
- Extinction for the Milky Way (since 0.13.2). Includes a better Milky Way image provided by Fabien. Also improvements in visibility balance when the Moon interferes (for 0.14).
- Simulation of the Zodiacal Light, sunlight reflected by interplanetary dust (since 0.13.2).
- The biggest development certainly is the Scenery3D plugin,
developed with the help of students at my
institute. It allows loading a 3D landscape into the scene, so
that you can walk around and find possible astronomical
alignments. This is a perfect tool for archaeoastronomy, but may also
be useful just for finding the best spot in your garden if you want to
avoid obstructions by trees or your neighbor's house. While
major changes in the rest of Stellarium's code done in 2012
prevented integration in the 0.12 series,
TU student Florian Schaukowitsch finally completed the task, and Scenery3D is available since 0.13.3.
- ArchaeoLines plugin (since 0.13.3), providing declination lines for solstices, equinox, lunistices, a planet, selected object etc.
- Accurate precession of the Equinoxes. Implemented an accurate long-time model that even shows limitations of the VSOP87 planetary solution (since 0.14).
- Nutation (IAU-2000B series), the short-period wobbles of Earth's axis mostly due to perturbations by Moon, Sun and planets (since 0.14).
- a few smaller bugfixes
- the η Carinae photo (from the 2002 Namibia tour on this page!)
Another neat trick: Creating panoramas from Google Earth.
© Georg Zotti, Wien.