Southern Stars, whose top-rated SkySafari astronomy app won MacWorld’s 2010 best-of-show award, has now brought the best of that app to the Mac OS X
However, according to the folks at Southern Stars, SkySafari for Mac OS X isn’t just a straight port of an iPhone app — it’s a complete rewrite of the program. It uses 100% native Cocoa OS X controls and supports OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) features, including full-screen mode, and a redesigned toolbar that fits in with Lion’s new look. What’s more, SkySafari supports multitouch gestures on Macs with multitouch trackpads.
SkySafari’s high-performance OpenGL astronomy engine was designed to run in the embedded environment of the iPhone. SkySafari for Mac OS X launches in two seconds, and renders celestial animations with frame rates approaching 100 FPS. It can find any object in its database of 15 million stars, 750,000 galaxies, and 550,000 galaxies in milliseconds, according to Southern Stars.
But SkySafari isn’t just a star chart. It contains an encyclopedia of astronomical information on more than 1000 celestial objects, and a gallery of hundreds of astronomical images from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the world’s foremost astrophotographers. It even includes an illustrated “Basic Concepts of Astronomy” textbook, built into its on-line help.
And what’s more, SkySafari Pro can let your Mac control a telescope. It supports both wired and wireless telescope communication. SkySafari Pro can do this using either a USB-to-serial adapter, or Southern Stars’ own SkyFi wireless adapter, which translates WiFi communication into RS-232.
Southern Stars has released two versions of SkySafari for Mac OS X and eventually plans to offer three. While they’re not yet available on the Mac App Store, they are available at http://www.southernstars.com .
SkySafari (basic version) is free until Sept. 15 and $4.99 afterwards. SkySafari (plus version) is $14.99 until Sept. 15 and $19.99 afterwards. SkySafari (pro version) is $29.99 until Sept. 15 and $49.99 afterwards. All versions of SkySafari require Mac OS X 10.6 or higher and a minimum screen resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels.