1. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Best Star Chart Sites or Apps?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Catrin Lewis, Dec 26, 2016.

    As currently-written, the moon and the availability of its light plays a major role in the last part of my WIP. At least, it was supposed to. I looked up moon phases and moon rise and set times for all the times I mention it, and I thought I had everything right. But a beta reader, who had to look into the same matter for her WIP, has pointed out that I got one appearance of old Luna screamingly, unscientifically wrong. I had a waning gibbous moon rising two hours before sunset, when they never, ever appear that early. In fact, on the date I want, the moon rose two hours after the sun went down.

    Don't know how I misread the lunar chart that badly--- that's what the screaming is about--- and the webpage I got my information from has disappeared. Yeah, I bookmarked the site, but the town I was using as my reference point no longer comes up in the search bar (Note to self: Make pdf copies of all crucial online research).

    I was thinking about saying "What the heck, this is fiction, I'll have the moon do what I want." But I'm not writing fantasy or other-worldly SciFi, and I don't want my readers poking holes.

    So, okay. I'll rewrite those sections using the stars instead. My protags will be out in a remote area with little or no light pollution on a clear night, so until the moon actually rises the stars will be out in all their glory. What I need to know is, can anyone recommend a good app or website where I can enter particular dates, times, and coordinates, and come up with the constellations, planets, etc., that would be visible then, and learn where in the sky they would appear, and how far above the horizon they would be?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    ... yes, you're right that fine detail accuracy really doesn't matter to the vast majority of readers, especially in fantasy stories, BUT, I'm finding that doing research like you're talking about often leads to unintended (happy) discoveries. In the story Malisky and I are writing, the opening paragraph mentions the moon and sky, and as it's opening night at the opera house, the day of the week is important. The story is set in 1790 Paris, beginning November 13 of that year. When doing the artwork for the event's poster, I arbitrarily typed a date... later to find out it was the middle of the week, on a moonless night! I have changed the date, and we don't mention what phase the moon is in, only that it's shining against a bruised sky.

    Is it important by itself, of course not.
    Though I think in the broader sense it highlights how important proper research is, and the random details you come upon that can set you in directions you wouldn't of otherwise been open to.
    Here's a website you can try... it's a bit dense, but might work for you.
    https://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/help/history.html
     
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  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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  4. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Yeah, that's what I figured. And it's one thing to shift the phase of the moon for a given time of a given month (as my idol Dorothy L. Sayers cheerfully admits she does in her masterpiece Gaudy Night); it's quite another to make the moon do something it never, ever does at all.

    Well, better to have someone notice now, before publication.
     
  5. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Look at SkySafari app. There used to be several versions at different price points. When you look for it in app store, look at a few that come up with it, they all offer something 'special' to them.
    I like SkySafari, you can dial in certain times at certain locations, take a star tour through time from a spot on earth, etc
     
  6. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Some of the reviewers at the Google Play store said it had annoying music. How easy/hard is that to turn off?
     
  7. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I've been exploring some sites. What would be ideal is one that would put me, the viewer, virtually on the ground and let me pan the view 360 to "see" what would be visible at the times chosen.
     

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