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If I'm a tyro and have a latitude, longitude, time, date, height from the horizon, and compass direction, what means can I use for identifying what I see there?

Realize that, as a tyro, I don't have any astronomy books or programs, and don't want to buy any; I might download a free program for my occasional inquiries about the sky, but would prefer a Web site.

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3 Answers 3

As today phones are becoming smarter and smarter I would recommend something like Google Sky Map Android application. It takes geographical info from your GPS or settings and shows you a superimposed sky map on the screen taking into account your hand movements. Is so intuitive that I certainly sound like a Google salesman doing a pitch. Check yourself some videos on youtube.

And is free. :)

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Cool! +1. Shame I don't have a smartphone. – msh210 Feb 6 '12 at 19:42
that my friend is just a question of time. – Elzo Valugi Feb 6 '12 at 19:44

For satellites and other manmade nits and pieces, that is, very bright and fast moving then Heavens-Above is a great place to begin looking for clues.

For more 'everyday' objects, such as planets and stars, I have always found Your Sky very useful.

Both require a certain knowledge of celestial coordinates and your own latitude and longitude, etc, which you say you can provide. Both are fairly comprehensive but quite technical and will take a little time to learn!

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+1; thank you very much. Attempting to answer my previous question seeking the identification of a single very bright object using these sites, I find that Heavens Above is very helpful; Your Sky was good, too, once I adjusted it to show only low-magnitude objects. As you say, though, I'll need to learn more about the options on either site (especially Your Sky) to make the most of it. – msh210 Feb 6 '12 at 19:15

Stellarium is great for these purposes. It's free and runs on both Widows, Mac and Linux, and is very easy to learn to use.

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+1, many thanks. – msh210 Jun 6 '13 at 17:32

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