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Astropro's Website Of the Week Award
©1999 by Richard Nolle


WOW!MAR 1, 1999 - Home Planet just might be the best free astronomy software you can download from the Web today. It's presently available for Windows users only: Release 2 for Windows 3.1 and Release 3 for Windows 95/98 and NT 4.0. The two releases are basically identical in functionality, which means you can do a lot with either. The sign-on screen showcases a real-time Earth map, showing the day/night terminus and the position of the Moon and any one artificial satellite you select from among a database of all satellites from Sputnik through late 1993. (The database as supplied needs to be updated for accuracy, following instructions in the Home Planet help file.) Other features include a Sun-Moon information panel (with distance from Earth and lunar phase data); position data for the Sun, Moon and planets (Right Ascensnion, Declination, etc.); an orrery showing the entire solar system; and of course a sky panel showing stellar and planetary positions for any date covered in Home Planet's calculation range (4713 BCE to approximately 8000 CE).

The full version of Home Planet Release 3 is a 7 Megabyte download, but there's also a "Lite edition" that comes in at less than 1.5 Mb. (You can later upgrade to the full version with a separate 6.2 Mb download if you like.) There's even more, but I'll let you discover that for yourself in this most excellent software package with its easy installation and illuminating help file.

Technical note: Web Site Garage rates Home Planet excellent over-all and in load time (6.90 seconds on a 28.8k modem). In comparison, the page you're now reading rates good in both categories (10.58 seconds to load at 28.8k).

The WOW! Archive

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