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    Re: Pointer star question
    From: Sean C
    Date: 2013 Feb 3, 05:13 -0800

    Speaking of Polaris and Stellarium: I was recently using said program to explore Polaris' apparent position over tens of thousands of years. I concluded that all of us are very fortunate to have been born during the current time period because it was not so long ago (relatively) that Polaris was much farther away from the celestial pole. For example, in 1492 Polaris was almost three and a half degrees away.

    During my lifetime, Polaris will only get closer to the pole. After that, it will be a VERY long time before it approaches the same position again. (Around the year 27,755.) And the stars which will take its place aren't nearly as conspicuous. Except maybe Vega, which will be nearest the pole around the year 13,746 at about 86 deg 14 min declination.

    As a side note, there is also a plugin available for Stellarium which simulates the view through a telescope. It is called "Oculars". I was able to tweak this plugin along with the angle measurement plugin to simulate taking sextant sights with my Davis Mk. 15. It worked rather well. I would focus on the star, enable the angle measurement tool, left-click and drag a small distance, move the view down and right-click the horizon, completing the angle measurement. Zoom out to see the displayed angle and voila! One simulated sight. I must say the only other program which offers a similar capability is Ilan Papini's "Virtual Sailor", and that program has some very serios known flaws with its model that the designer has no plans to fix. >:(

    Also, Frank wrote, "I try to point out fun tools like Stellarium because many NavList members have no idea that such things are available."

    If you like Stellarium, you might want to check out another free program called "Space Engine". It's like Stellarium, except you can travel to any point in the Universe and see what the view would be like from that spot. It was an awesome sight to be able to zoom into the middle of the Pleiades and see how the stars are positioned relative to each other in full 3D! Really an awesome program!

    Sean C
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