So What Benefits Does LunarPhase Pro Verison 2 Have To Offer You?
Maybe you remember news reports about the Full Moon being bigger in the sky back in December 2003? Some users asked if there was an easy way to find out when something like that would happen again (or if they could look for when it happened historically). The answer was no. So in V2.51, I added a screen that provides that information. Actually, it lets you know if the Moon is/was at or near Apogee or Perigee at the time of any major Moon phase (Full, New, First or Last Quarter).
Did you know that NASA have their own TV station? If you live in the U.S. and have a Satellite TV system, then you can pick this channel. The satellite's below the horizon for the rest of the world which means no one can pick it up. But NASA have been kind enough to provide a live streamed video feed to the internet. The new "NASA TV" screen in LunarPhase Pro [V2.45] hooks into that and displays programs from NASA directly on your your screen. You do need to have a high-speed internet connection for this toi work though.
One of the great things about LunarPhase Pro is that you can print out maps of the areas you're interested in. But maps can be a heavy drain on ink or toner, so an option to scale printouts was added in V2.35 which ends up saving you ink or toner (and a little money on these consumables).
The new "Moon Rise & Set Positions" screen shows the compass directions for the rising and setting Moon for the selected date. Diagrams show where to look for the Moon at these times, along with the numeric (Azimuth) values (compass directions). The diagrams also show the general compass directions (e.g. ENE). These diagrams are also great for photographers who are interested in taking photos when the Moon is low on the horizon so they'll know where the Moon is in relation to landmarks or scenes they want to photograph.
Very High Resolution Maps have been introduced into V2.30 of the software which show more surface detail when the maps are zoomed in. You can see the difference between fully zoomed hires maps and the new very hires maps here.
The Moon is becoming more interesting, what with Europe's SMART-1 probe now in orbit around it, China's upcoming Moon mission and the U.S.'s plans to return there in the next 10-20 years. Now you can keep up to date with the ever-changing news about the Moon right from within LunarPhase Pro.
The terminator, the line that separates the lit part of the Moon from the part in shadow, is where you'll find features in high relief with long shadows cast by central peaks, mountains and crater walls. Now you can label just those features along the terminator so they're easy to identify. Another great suggestion from a user.
Ever noticed how the Moon seems to lean to the left or right by different amounts when it's up in the sky? LunarPhase Pro now shows the Moon's orientation so it's easier to match what you see on the screen with what you see in the sky or through your telescope.
There are tens of meteor showers each year. Now you can find out if the Moon is high and bright during any shower so you'll know whether to stay up and watch the show or head off to bed if the Moon drowns out the spectacle.
If you're into photography, you probably know that the best light is in the twilight hours around sunrise and sunset. LunarPhase Pro already provided those times for your location, but now a new screen's been added that shows where on the horizon the Sun rises and sets for any given day. Great for sunrise or sunset photos!
If you've ever wondered what (astronomical) constellation the Moon is in, now you'll know.
The inbuilt database of features has now been increased from 2,100 features to over 9,200. Many of these features also have associated observing notes which will get you up and running on what to look for, especially if you're new to Moon observing.
Now you can search the database for features that match your requirements. Any features found also have the links to any associated images, observation notes or satellite images of those features on the moon.
Have you ever wanted to look at lunar features when they're under the same lighting conditions as you last observed them? Now you can plan for these times as LunarPhase Pro will predict future times and dates for you and let you know if the moon will be above your horizon (for easy viewing) on those times and dates.
Maybe you've heard of Rukl's Moon Atlas? This is now out of print and second hand copies sell for $200-$400 on eBay (on the rare occasions they become available). LunarPhase Pro can now show you the outlines of these charts on its maps and it also gives you a list of the features that appear on each chart.
Not sure what the Moon will look like through your eyepieces (especially if you're new to using a telescope)? LunarPhase Pro lets you emulate those views so you can do practice runs on those cloudy nights or before you take your 'scope out. Get familiar with the features in each view so you can get the most out of your observing session when it comes around.
Maybe you're fed up scribbling notes on bits of paper (and subsequently losing them). Now you can record your observing notes directly into LunarPhase Pro's database, either at the 'scope or later if you want. What's more, your notes are linked to the specific features you've observed so you can build up a library of observations over time. You can even date and time stamp the entries. Even better, you can link multiple images to a feature so you can build up a library of images (say of features under different illuminations or seen at different magnifications).
Have you ever thought of seeing the Moon in a different light? The light of hydrogen, iron or infra-red perhaps? With LunarPhase Pro you can do just that. See the concentrations of minerals on the Moon, a gravity map or the Moon as seen by the Clementine probe. This ties in to the next thing...
Ok, admittedly this next feature is just for fun...Have you bought a plot of land on the Moon? If so, then LunarPhase Pro now allows you to enter the location of your land claim and see its position on the maps. Check out the Moon mineral maps and see if you're sitting on a future mother-lode (whenever we get back to the Moon)!
So What Other Advantages Can LunarPhase Pro Offer You?
Well, there's the main screen that shows you all the information you need at a glance. Oh, and you can change the date or time to see the moon past or future.
You can look at two types of maps - a 3D map that shows you the Moon as it appears in the sky or a 2D map if you like looking at Mercator projections! And you can zoom, pan and print out the maps. You can also take a look at the Moon's far side - the side we never get to see from Earth!
You can get LunarPhase Pro to show you the Moon as seen through your particular optics, whether they be binoculars, an astronomical telescope or a telescope that uses a diagonal.
You're familiar with libration - the up/down, left/right wobble the Moon goes through over the course of a month? LunarPhase Pro corrects the 3D maps for this so you do see the Moon exactly as it appears in the sky. What's more, you can animate the Moon and watch it wobble, with its traveling terminator over the course of time (see demos here. You'll never see the Moon do that in real-time! You can also look at libration diagrams which will give you the information you need to know about which features on the Moon's limb will be rotated into view for best observation.
Naturally, you'll want to know the names of different features on the Moon. LunarPhase Pro gives you three ways of identifying features: click your mouse on a map for an instant "what's this feature" information; or you can select a feature from one of over 20 lists of feature types and have it outlined on the maps; then again, you can have feature names displayed directly on the maps...and you choose exactly what features are named and what colors to use for your labels so different features are labelled distinctly.
What do you think is the best area of the Moon to observe? The Terminator...that line that separates the lit part of the moon from the part in shadow. It's here that you'll find features showing greatest relief. This line is what the Moon's wow factor is all about. You'll see mountains casting stark shadows, crater rims ablaze with light while their floors are shrouded in darkness, sinuous rilles snaking across the surface. LunarPhase Pro gives you a real-time list of features that lie along the terminator so you can plan ahead for which ones you should devote your observing time to.
Not sure where the Moon is in the sky? The Daily View diagram gives you an instant overview of whether the Moon is above your horizon (day or night) and just how high up it will get in your sky. This screen is great for photographers and fishermen.
How would you like to know the times of lunar eclipses for where you live (not generic times as published in magazines)? LunarPhase Pro gives you all that information. In fact, all the information that the software displays is tailored to your specific location. If you're one of those people who travel out to different observing sites or do a lot of traveling generally, then you can store mutiple locations in LunarPhase Pro's database so you can get Moon information for wherever you are.
Have you ever specifically looked out for emerging Moon crescents - just after the Moon is New? LunarPhase Pro will tell you when and where to look for those crescents and how long they're visible for. These always present a good photo opportunity so now may be the time for you to get into photographing the Moon.
There's an online aspect of LunarPhase Pro that you will find useful as well. You can link to many resources about the Moon and Moon Missions and call up satellite images of Moon features with a simple mouse-click. If you've bought property on the Moon, you can even call up satellite imagery of the area where your plot resides.
That May Seem Pretty Comprehensive...But There's More To Discover...
How about monthly phase diagrams that you can include on your webpages; or you can find out when the Moon is at its closest or farthest from Earth in a given timeframe; it gives you daily Moon rise/set, Sun rise/set and Civil, Nautical and Astronomical Twilight times; you'll always know when the seasons start and how long they'll last; you'll never have to worry about when Easter Sunday falls -it'll tell you; then you can print out monthly calendars; you can see or print a monthly ephemeris of Moon and Sun data; you can even find out what week/day in the year it is and how many shopping days are left till Christmas!
What more could you want from LunarPhase Pro? Well, if there is something, you can always ask me to include it. Othes like you have asked and I've answered their call. That's why there's a (free) upgrade to the software every 6-8 weeks. I like feedback from people like you and LunarPhase Pro has progressed based on the suggestions and comments of those who use it. The software is written for you, to meet your needs, not to meet what I think your needs are. You wil have a say in how the software progesses in the future! How many software packages can you say that about??
I originally started to put this Moon Observing Toolkit together as a personal resource to use whenever I wanted to observe but it was cloudy (an all too-frequent occurrence). The software has been built on my 20+ years experience as a software developer. In fact, I really wasn’t originally planning on making the software available until fellow amateur astronomers said, "I gotta have a copy!". That was five years ago and its capabilities have come along in leaps and bounds ever since, not least because of the feedback I've had from people like you.
As a user, you also get free updates of the software within a generation - in other words, anyone who bought Version 1 of the software could upgrade to later versions in the 1.xx generation for free. That's also the true for Version 2. Updates are released regularly, so you'll benefit from new features being added to the software and quick bug fixes.
Why should you invest in LunarPhase Pro. Well, this is the kind of resource I would have killed for when I was starting out observing the Moon many years ago. Look at it this way -- $39.95 is less than you'd pay for most computer games, and is really a drop in the ocean compared to the money you may have wasted buying a telescope you never use. The sad fact is that many telescopes lie in corners, unused, gathering dust, because their owners simply don't know how to use them or where to point them. If that's you, now you can start putting your telescope to work! If you already use your telscope, then get to know Earth's nearest companion.
So, if you want to learn about the Moon or plan what and when to observe its myriad features, everything you need from a Moon Observing Tool is now in one place - LunarPhase Pro - and it's a fun tool to use too!
Download the Demo Version of LunarPhase Pro
P.S. BONUS: FREE Observing the Moon eBook when you order. This 17-page book is in PDF format and provides some basic information about observing Earth's nearest companion.
BONUS: The first six issues of the Photon astronomy ezine are included with CD orders.
P.P.S. All future version 2 upgrades are free. Feel free to contact me with comments and suggestions - LunarPhase Pro has been built on the suggestions of people like yourself.
P.P.P.S LunarPhase Pro is now used in these countries around the world: USA, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Croatia, South Africa, Mauritius, Cyprus, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.
While the software was originally written with astronomy in mind, it's now used by an eclectic mix of people: amateur astronomers, teachers, fishermen, gardeners, military people, photographers, teachers, stockbrokers, astrologers and Wiccan!
P.P.P.P.S. If you've decided not to order click here.
I like getting feedback from my users. It helps me tailor the software to their needs and several features in the software have been suggested by them. If there's an enhancement or a feature you'd like to see added to the software, let me know.