With my purchase of binoculars from Orion and Celestron FirstScope, I received two planetarium software CDs. The first was Starry Night Orion Special Edition and TheSkyX First Light Edition. I decided to compare both so see which would be a good choice to start using. I also added Stellarium to the comparison because it was free. My long term plan is to get one of the paid edition but since I am just starting out, I figured I would use what I got.
Though I had heard of Starry Night before, I wasn’t impressed with the Orion Special Edition. It did show the night sky at my location, date and time. That was about it. It had all the basic controls for a planetarium software. I liked the opening prompt of what was visible in the sky tonight. There was no view of the constellations. So it was hard to figure out what I was seeing. I could click on a star to get more information. I assume the paid editions offer more features.
TheSkyX seemed to have more features. I like the ability to control what is displayed like constellations, star names, planets and Messier Objects. It also had an observation list you could create. It also showed a picture of the object when you selected it. This looked a very good product.
Stellarium was an open source software. I too liked itself user interface. It didn’t seem to have all the features of the TheSkyX but was very straightforward.
I am going to try both the TheSkyX and Stellarium.