Stellarium – a Gift to Humanity

Hello! Find out more about Stellarium in this tutorial that introduces several of the cool and clever things this astronomy software can do.

An image of the winter sky showing the Full Moon near the constellations Orion, Taurus, the Big Dog (with the bright star Sirius), and the Little Dog (with the bright star Procyon).
An image of the winter sky showing the Full Moon near the constellations Orion, Taurus, the Big Dog (with the bright star Sirius), and the Little Dog (with the bright star Procyon).

Stellarium – a glorious gift to Humanity in software form – gives you super powers. And best of all … It’s FREE!


Always wanted to know the names of the stars and constellations? You can search, play, pan and zoom, examine, compare and anchor your knowledge.

It’s a cloudy night? No problem. You can see through the clouds

Wished that the sky had labels on everything? Stellarium has 10 different label types.

Stop time? Move time by day, by week? Do you want to see what will happen in 2 months? Or look at the sky during the Pharoah’s reign? You can time travel.

You can easily drag and zoom, stop time, go in reverse, make a timelapse, follow the moon through its phases. You have a tool to help you understand the ecliptic and sidereal time and retrograde motion. You can see the great orbital swing of Venus as it circles the Sun.

Ok! I’m convinced by your Stellarium review. What should I do now? What’s my call to action?

Get a copy of Stellarium.

You can download it here.

Stellarium is a free, easy to use, and powerful tool – and best of all (did I mention this already?) it’s FREE and easy to use.

I will write some specific tutorials about my favorite parts of Stellarium in 2017, but for now… go get it and play!

You will be able to see things about sky objects and movements that are impossible to see live. But, once you have seen them with the help of Stellarium, the sky will open up for you – like a gift.

A Mouse in Moonlight – Illustrations in Goodnight Moon

A Child’s Book

Goodnight Moon book cover - treatment of Moon motion and astronomy
Goodnight Moon book cover

As a dad, I treasure a well-crafted, uplifting gem of a book like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Pictures by Clement Hurd. It’s the kind of children’s book that just feels good to read out loud to your kids. Plus, the illustrations in Goodnight Moon offer a secret puzzle for the attentive reader – or if you, like me, have read the book 1001 times and you find your tired eyes wandering over the pages.

Beyond Brown’s lilting, hypnotic phrasing, and her clever and funny rhymes, the mouse, lighting, and moon illustrations by her partner Clement are even better than you knew! The drawings (more than most other children’s books) accurately reflect the real world changes happening over the time it takes the bunny (child) to fall asleep: the clock’s hands advance in believable increments, the moon rises and illuminates different areas of the room, and the mouse explores.

Good Moon Rising

Image of the Full Moon as seen through the window of the Great Green Room of the book Goodnight Moon
Full Moon at 7:40p

This site profiles and dissects Hurd’s eminently likable line drawings and discovers a rare and captivating attention to moon detail. Here is a master of children’s illustration deploying the highest level of observational, scientific knowledge and gifting it to children (and their bleary-eyed) parents down through the ages.

Next time you find yourself “In the great green room”… take a closer look at the illustrations in Goodnight Moon and witness an intricately interwoven story being told in miniature; silent, like a mouse in moonlight.