Nightshade is free, open source astronomy simulation and visualization software for teaching and exploring astronomy, Earth science, and related topics. Nightshade is based on the award-winning Stellarium software, but tailored for planetarium and educator use.
The emphasis is on usability, realism, feature stability, and performance. It is backward compatible with scripts for Stellarium 0.8.2 and earlier using the StratoScriptTM language developed and maintained by Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc.
Nightshade is available for Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and other platforms.
Who uses it?
The Nightshade codebase is currently used as the simulation software on literally hundreds of Digitarium digital planetarium systems around the world. We would like to see more planetarium educators and vendors adopt Nightshade as their simulator of choice.
Why another planetarium program?
Digitalis originally sponsored planetarium specific features in Stellarium such as fisheye projection mode, fixed bugs, and added many new features such as the StratoScript scripting engine, lunar eclipse simulation, etc.
Unfortunately Stellarium development focus shifted almost exclusively to desktop use, with large changes to implement a new graphical interface. In the process the simulation realism suffered and planetarium specific features were simply dropped without discussion.
It became very apparent that the two different uses were not coexisting equally, and the decision was made to release Nightshade and build a community around this project that cares primarily about planetarium and educator usage.
Even if you can't write software, we can still use your help with translations, sky culture data, testing, feature suggestions, landscapes, documentation, useful scripts, and bug reports.
While Digitalis manages the development of Nightshade, we are explicitly vendor neutral and will accept any patches that move the project forward.
Together we can accomplish so much more than any of us can alone.
Here are some key features of "Nightshade":
- The only open source simulator designed specifically for planetaria
- Easy to use
- Keystrokes are mostly compatible with Stellarium
- Highly configurable
- Unmatched starfield realism and configurability
- Supports 40+ languages, including right-to-left and cursive languages like Arabic
- Support for daylight savings and all world timezones (Linux)
- Show moon or other body orbit visualizations, 3D depth buffered for realism
- Explore a planet from above
- Zoom to a location below the zenith for easier viewing in a dome
- Support for distortion correction when the projector must be placed off-center
- Load solar system objects (such as natural or artificial satellites, asteroids, comets, etc.) from a script
- Play videos from a script (vendor specific)
- Integration with media display/distortion correction software (vendor specific)
- Lens distortion correction built in (vendor specific)
- Fixed bug with Earth terminator when using shaders
- Fixed bug with some duplicate stars
- Fixed bug with star scientific names not loading
- Smoother orbits at slow time rates
- Added galactic grid feature
- Added comet magnitude calculations
- Fixed various other bugs