Megastar and Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, POSS, Real Sky:
The digital sky map Megastar has been a nice companion for me during many years. Although it has not been that much modernised, it has some very nice features.
- It has a vast number of object catalogues
- It goes deep in magnitude
- You can sync it with the telescope through an RS232 port.
- You can install the photographic atlas "Real Sky" on top of the digital map.
Now, there are some limitations for installing the real sky map on a computer. The content of the 18 separate discs have to be converted into a special format. The discs are not readable by Windows 7 or 10. You have to use Windows XP, or an older version. Anyway, once you have transformed the data, and stored it on a hard drive, you can transfer the data to a windows 10 computer. It is about 10GB.
To connect the computer to the telescope, I used to have an RJ12 cable with an RJ12-to-serial port adapter. Now with a more recent computer, you also need a serial port-to-USB adapter. The program, which is a great achievement by Emil Bonnano, is from the 1992 time frame, and onwards. I think it is truly fantastic to use an almost 30 year old PC-program, together with sky map photos from the 1950's (northern sky), and somewhat more recent for the southern sky extensions. And it delivers!
Although you nowadays can get much of the catalogue data directly on-line from internet, and also combined with other sky map programs, I think Megastar is a truly great program, and I enjoy to have the whole universe down to 19th magnitude on the hard drive.
Sky map example: Megastar with Hickson 56 and the NGC 3718 region.
Comparing the Real Sky Palomar view in Megastar with my own photo of the same area. It makes a good match and is useful for identifying objects