In an earlier phase of my life, I worked as a professional astronomer, and I've loved space and astronomy since before I could pronounce the words. So naturally, I've gotten a lot of personal pleasure from the free software astronomy tools that are included in my Debian GNU/Linux system. But ironically, I haven't written about them much. Recently, though, I was asked a question which I used KStars to answer, so this is a good chance to talk about how to use it.
Astronomy software comes in many forms—from the details of computer intensive Grid computing of the distribution of stars (okay that’s astrophysics) to rendering the night sky in artistically detailed and sumptuous graphics. Being a devoted backseat observer to the evolution of the Universe in general and GNU/Linux software in specific, I thought it was time to show off what I consider to be the elite of desktop elegance. I will describe the installation and use of two astronomy related software packages: Stellarium and Celestia. These packages are visually appealing and fun to use.
The big questions are being answered. Now is the golden age of cosmology. Astronomy, astrophysics, particle physics and the rest of the outward facing sciences are moving forward in leaps and bounds of credible theorizing and searching. Yes, a massive shift towards a truly profound understanding of how things work in this Universe. It comes as no surprise that with so much knowledge and data flowing that the elite temples of understanding such as Universities we risk submergence under the velocity of model change and data storage requirements.