Redshift 5 Review

By Malcolm Gibb

I have been using the latest edition of Redshift, (version 5) the desktop planetarium programme for the past few months. I started with Redshift 3 which I found very easy to use then when version 4 came out I upgraded but found it not quite as user friendly. Having used Redshift 5 for some time now I find it easier to use than version 4 but not as easy as 3, but the amount of information and functions it has is quite outstanding. I chose to copy the full CD Rom to my hard disc and to get the full benefit of the programme, access to the internet is required to active the product.

Up and running and there is an excellent preview of Redshift 5 capabilities with a commentary. The features are so numerous that so far I have not been able to try them all but I'm working on it. To quote from the cover, Redshift 5 contains 20 million stars, the Milky Way, over 70,000 deep space objects, nebulae and star clusters, galaxies and quasars, all of the planets and their moons over 50,000 asteroids and over 1,500 comets, enough to keep even the most ardent astronomer happy I should imagine, but does the amateur really need all that information?

On the main screen, moving the cursor over any star or object brings up the name, a left click of the mouse then brings a panel up and a click on the panel will open a screen with all the information about that star or object, rise and set, magnitude, position, properties, structure and other facts and figures too numerous to mention.

There is a collection of guided tours of space, high resolution maps of planets from the latest space probes, an astronomical record breakers and image gallery (nearly as good as the AFA one!) and all the recently discovered moons of the solar system planets. All can be updated from the internet and all new space discoveries can be imported and integrated from specialised internet sites.

The Sky Diary is an excellent way to plan your observing, giving events, the positions of the planets and conjunctions for any month. The help manual is one of the easiest to use that I have come across, a click on the icon in the toolbar and a separate window opens with all the main headings down one side. Expand any one and the sub headings come up with in many cases sub, sub headings. The Dictionary of Astronomy is most comprehensive with thousands of entries. Where appropriate, a click on underlined words will take you to other definitions and use of the back button takes you back to the original, in some cases there are animated diagrams and if there is a link to an internet site that is given in the right hand panel.

All in all it is a first-rate planetarium programme and you could do worse than spend an interesting few hours at the computer when weather conditions outside make true observing impossible.