Here are several excellent third-party astronomy software applications for your computer; some allow you to see what the night sky will look like, others allow you to visualize and explore the wonders of the cosmos.
We use these in preparing materials for Sacred Space Astronomy, and we include the links here as they may be useful for other educators as well.
Free app for Windows and MAC OS X – travel along with current space missions, go to planets, moon, and asteroids, see Earth climate data, and exoplanet systems.
A free virtual Universe you can explore on your computer. You can travel from star to star, from galaxy to galaxy, landing on any planet, moon, or asteroid with the ability to explore its alien landscape. You can alter the speed of time and observe any celestial phenomena you please.
A physics-based space simulator that merges gravity, climate, collision, and material interactions to reveal the beauty of our universe and the fragility of our planet.
Create, destroy, and interact on a scale you’ve never before imagined.
Stellarium is a free planetarium app; you can see the skies from any location on Earth, at any date and time you wish. You can turn on constellation lines and artwork, control your telescope, and much more!
Celestia is a free space simulator in which you can explore space in three dimensions. Travel around the solar system, to other stars, and even outside our galaxy.
It’s not a physical telescope — it’s a suite of free and open source software and data sets that combine to create stunning scientific visualizations and stories.
For more simulation apps, see these posts on Sacred Space Astronomy: