When I worked as a computer consultant, my specialty was importing and exporting data. I once had a job trying to export data from an early Macintosh database. The authors of the program had decided that their software was so good that no one would ever want another program, and so had cleverly designed their software so that data, once entered, could never be exported. Despite my knowledge of all the tricks of the trade, I couldn’t figure a way to export the data. The situation made me really aware of the importance of software being able to talk to other software, clearly and unambiguously, and that has always been one of the reasons I like Starry Night.
The most obvious way of exporting information from Starry Night is printing star charts for use under the sky or at the telescope.
There are two main ways of printing charts: 1 pane and 3 pane. 1 pane charts are traditional charts, which can be set up to any scale using Starry Night’s zoom capabilities, including a special 180° chart of the whole sky. 3 pane charts allow you to show the sky at three different scales, so that you can depict naked eye, binocular, and telescope views on a single page.
Starry Night gives you a series of 11 standard chart designs, or you can print custom charts using whatever display features you choose to turn on. All of these charts are negatives of what you see on the screen: black stars and labels on a white background, which is what most experienced observer’s prefer.
Sometimes you want a more naturalistic depiction of the night sky. In this case, use the “Export as Image…” command under the File menu. This allows you to export the screen display in 11 different formats, including the best known graphical exchange formats and formats specific to many different graphics programs. The Options button lets you control the resolution and image size.
You can make QuickTime movies of anything displayed and animated on your Starry Night screen. You can even export the sky in QuickTime VR format, so that anyone with QuickTime can examine details of the sky by panning and zooming.
Experienced observers who use Starry Night will know about its logging features, which enable you to record your observations as part of Starry Night log files. While individual logs can be exported as text files, you can also use the “Export All Logs…” command to export all your log entries at once—an excellent way to prepare an observing blog, for example.
This article has just touched on a selection of the export facilities built into Starry Night. As with many features, I encourage you to explore and experiment this rich learning environment.