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July, 1999

European Distant Suns

European Distant Suns is the Web site for an excellent planetarium software program, available with a downloadable demo version. The program's tutorial is a great teaching tool.

High-quality graphics grace the Web site and the software. The CD-ROM version includes a library of astronomical animations.

This software takes a fairly high-end system with at least 10 MB of RAM, PowerPC, 68040+, and MacOS 7.1 for Macintosh or 16 MB RAM, Pentium 90+, and Windows 95 for PCs. The software is a little complex, and we recommend using the tutorial to learn to navigate the program.

European Distant Suns is a great way to bring the night sky into your curriculum, even in broad daylight. It will also greatly augment programs that include nighttime star watches. The software includes star maps that can be programmed to any date and quadrant of the sky. The tutorial is well put together and guides the user not only through the program but also through a discussion on astronomical concepts, such as the sun's relationship to the seasons and the reason for the North Pole's midnight sun. The tutorial also covers astronomical phenomena. The program comes on a CD-ROM and is available for a reasonable price through the site. The downloadable demo version is a great way to get to know a basic version of the software, but without the animations that make this software so exceptional.