25 December 2008
ISRO has collaborated with Russia for building the rover. The rover will have a soft landing on the moon unlike the MIP probe of Chandrayaan 1 which had a hard landing. The rover will collect the soil and rock samples from the moon, do in-situ tests and send the data to Earth through the orbiter. The estimated cost for Chandrayaan 2 is said to be Rs. 425 crore (US $ 90 million).
ISRO is currently earning about Rs 10 billion (Rs 1,000 crore) annually from its commercial wing. Chandrayaan is expected make it grow at 20 percent per year.
Anyways, I forgot to mention this in my previous post. The previous one was my 50th post. :)
21 December 2008
Ariane-5 (rocket) was launched on sunday bearing two satellites, "W2M and Hot Bird 9". The space craft W2M, weighing 3463 kg was built by ISRO. This is the heaviest satellite ever built by ISRO and its capable of operating over 15 years. W2M is a communication satellite built on a commercial basis in partnership with EADS-Astrium of Europe.
18 December 2008
This is not a very clear image but it is an astonishing one of the crescent Moon and Venus. This was viewed right here at Chennai on May 21st, 2004. It may be old but I would never forget this incident where the Moon forms a magical lamp with Venus brightly light at the end. This image was published in "The Hindu" on the next day. Ever since I started this blog I wanted to post this image but I never found it. By mere luck I found the old newspaper with this image and using its date I found the image in "The Hindu" website. I now hold the newspaper cutting (where the image is clear) as a possession. Click Here to read the article.
Halos are nothing but a dim circle of light that is formed around the Sun or the Moon or any bright source of light for that matter (eg. a street lamp). These halos are formed due to ice crystals that are found in the clouds. These ice crystals acts as a lens reflecting and refracting the light.
17 December 2008
11:39 - South-west, 80 deg from the horizon, a short meteor. Not the brightest.
11:48 - This one was a little to the west from zenith (exactly over-head). It was very quick and very short. It was very quick and also being short, it disappeared less than a second.
11:55 - About 60 deg from the northern horizon, moving towards west. It was a little bright and longer than the previous two.
This was when a bunch of clouds came in. Had to wait a long time for it to clear.
12:15 - About 45 deg from the western horizon. It was less bright but it was quick.
12:30 - About 60 deg from south-west horizon. This one was bright and it moved slowly, about the normal speed with all others being too quick.
The long tiring day started to take over me and I realized I almost dozed at the terrace. I decided to get back into the house and sleep. But it was a good experience.
I hope atleast one of my friends had caught one.
9 December 2008
Best time to look out for Geminids is from 9pm on December 13th till sunrise on December 14th. It peaks at about 100 meteors an hour. On non-peak days, you may only spot about 10 an hour. Geminids are one of the best shower of the year. These meteors originated in a mysterious object called 3200 Phaethon, which looks like a cross between an asteroid and a burned-out comet. Each time Earth reaches this point in space, the debris falls into the atmosphere causing the meteors.
Where to look? Look at the entire sky during the time. It can appear anywhere. Its direction would be away from Gemini. For those who feel safe to know the location of Gemini, the constellation is exactly where the moon is on December 13th. And yes! Its a full moon. The bright full moon may block most of the meteors. Hence, you can only see the bright meteors. All the dull meteors will be shunt by the bright light of the moon. So look at the entire sky, best being around the moon.
Click Here to see the position of the moon over Gemini and also how the meteors appear from the constellation. The red "X" on the picture is the radiant of the shower. Radiant is a point from where the meteors appear to move from. No meteor will be visible at the radiant. It only appears to move away from it.
30 November 2008
Venus is very bright, its magnitude being -4.02 (Lesser the magnitude, brighter the object). Venus can sometime reach the magnitude of -4.6. With the rest of the sky consisting of faint stars, the triangle between the three brightest objects of the night sky will be eye-catching.
23 November 2008
The 100-million-pound unmanned mission 'MoonLITE' would aim to understand the cause of mysterious quakes that vibrate through the lunar rock and put it into the satellite's orbit before firing a series of probes into the moon's surface.
The launch of MoonLITE (Moon Lightweight Interior and Telecommunications Experiment), will be announced next month after which engineers would work on the technical designs with an aim to launch the satellite between 2012 and 2014.
Backed by NASA, the spacecraft would also examine the chemical composition of the rocks and even search for water on the moon's surface.
The existence of moonquakes has puzzled scientists as the moon does not have the tectonic plate activity that causes quakes on the earth.
The MoonLITE mission is expected to fire four suitcase-sized penetrator probes into different points around the lunar surface.
The temperature of the solar corona goes beyond million degrees. From the Earth, corona can be seen only during total solar eclipses mainly due to the bright Solar disc and the scattering of the sunlight by the Earth's atmosphere. One has to go beyond the atmosphere to be able to mask the bright solar disc and study the corona.
"That's a mini satellite. In fact, the design is just getting completed. During solar maxim...which is happening...we would like to see the type of emissions which are taking place in the Sun and how it interacts with the ionosphere and atmosphere and so on. A basic understanding of the physical processes and continuous monitoring would help in taking necessary steps towards protecting ISRO's satellites either by switching them off or putting them on a stand-by mode as warranted by the background conditions.", says Madhavan Nair.
The satellite will remain in Earth's orbit and will study the Sun's Corona, sun spots and the Solar flare. 'Aditya' mission lies behind the international Sun missions 'Yohkoh', launched by Japan, collaborating with US and UK in 1991 and 'Hinode' in 2006. But 'Aditya' will be an Indian satellite with no collaboration.
19 November 2008
Bhuvan will use a network of satellites to create a high-resolution, bird's-eye view of India – and later, possibly, the rest of the world – that will be accessible at no cost online and will compete with Google Earth. If a pilot version passes muster, Bhuvan will be fully operational by the March. There are also plans to incorporate a Global Positioning System (GPS) into the online tool. Bhuvan will mainly focus on the sub-continent.
Bhuvan has an edge over Google Earth. Bhuvan has a lot more features than the famed Google Earth. Lets compare Bhuvan with Google Earth.
- Google Earth zooms in upto 200 meters, Wikimapia zooms upto 50 meters but Bhuvan can zoom upto 10 meters. The image is of a very high resolution such that you can get a view from the three storey building.
- Google Earth is a single layer information whereas Bhuvan is a multilayer information.
- In Google Earth the images are upgraded every 4 years whereas in Bhuvan, it is upgraded every year.
- Google Earth has no alternative viewing option. In Bhuvan you have an option of viewing on different dates.
- Google Earth uses international satellites for mapping but Bhuvan uses Indian satellites.
The prototype of Bhuvan will be ready by the end of November and ISRO is hoping to officially launch the service by March 2009.
ISRO is now booming itself since the launch of Chandrayaan.
18 November 2008
17 November 2008
I woke up from a dream (not a nightmare), and discovered that the time was 3:40 and the alarm was off. I didn’t know whether to call myself lucky or unlucky. Went straight to my terrace and I realized that I am, actually unlucky. It was overcast, especially the east horizon. Since the constellation Leo is said to be at the east horizon and that the meteors appear to origin from that constellation, I wasn’t really happy.
I was happy that the sky was partly clear and that the clouds were moving pretty fast. I positioned myself such that I could see the east part of the sky quite clearly. I kept looking there for about 20 mins with no success. During this time I was also trying to identify the constellation Leo. All I could see was two stars near the horizon. At around 4:30 I noticed more stars at the east horizon and I realized that the brighter of the two stars was Regulus (Constellation Leo) and another bright at the dead east was actually Saturn. I decided to go back to my computer to check the planetarium software again and that was moment I would never forget for the rest of my life.
4:32 am – I spotted my first ever meteor. It was to the right of Regulus. It was moving further right away from Regulus. Yes, it was a Leonid and it was moving away from Leo. It was short compared to what I saw in youtube. And quick! Very quick! If I had attempted to blink I may not have caught it after all.
I was really excited. I was literally jumping with joy. Now I noticed that the sky is much clear. I was looking at Sirius, how bright it was; and Orion (my favorite constellation); and the Moon, was really bright. And then –
4:37 am – Another one - To the north of the Moon - Moving towards the west. Again away from Leo (Leo was still at the east). I realized that the meteor may not actually appear near the constellation. Moon was at the constellation Gemini and so was this meteor.
I ran back downstairs and woke up mom. My friend, Kavin messaged me asking if it was worth having a look. Somehow I convinced him to go to his terrace and have a try. Nearly 30 mins later my mom said she was tired and she went back. Bad Luck for her, I thought. A little while later, Kavin messaged me saying it was getting cloudy again and that he was quitting. Bad Luck for him too. I went back to my computer to confirm the location of Leo and Saturn.
Went back upstairs and by now I was really fed up. No meteors in the last 45 mins. I just turned to see if the sky was clear and again –
5:27 am – Another. My third lucky meteor! This one was a little above the north horizon, moving from east to west. Again, away from Leo! This was when I realized how wrong I was. I thought that Leonids would appear near Leo. Now I realized that it can appear anywhere in the sky. The only thing was that it appears to move away from Leo.
Now I decided to stand up and look all over the sky. I was sure I missed a lot of them when I was only looking at east. I’m not gonna miss anymore. 10 mins later I felt I saw a faint meteor near the east horizon. Bright Moon and tiny source of light at the east (rising Sun), it could have really been a meteor but I might have imagined as well.
In another 10 mins light was growing on the east. I realized that I was finding difficult to spot even Orion. All I was able to see on the sky apart from Moon was Sirius, Regulus, Rigel and Saturn. All the other stars had faded due to the growing sun light. That was when I decided to quit my first meteor hunt. Pretty successful. But that’s not the end of the story. Geminids still waiting on December.
15 November 2008
Here is a colourful, close-up picture of the Moon taken by Moon Impact Probe (MIP), which is one of the 11 payloads of Chandrayaan-I. MIP was ejected by Chandrayaan on November 14th and had a crash landing (as planned) on the Moon at around 8:31 pm IST. MIP took this picture on its way to the surface of the moon. MIP (with the tri-coloured flag painted on its sides) landed on the Moon, making India the fourth country to make a physical contact on the Moon.
14 November 2008
Meteoroids are tiny rock particles found in space. It may be broken asteroids or remains of a comet. It is smaller than asteroids and they do not have a definite orbit. When a meteoroid enters the Earth's Atmosphere it is called a Meteor. And when it hits the ground it is called a Meteorite. Smaller meteors gets burned up when it reaches the atmosphere hence not all meteors reaches the ground. Meteors are more famously called as 'Shooting Stars' or 'Falling Stars'.
Meteor Shower is an Astronomical Event when many meteors are observed at the same point of region in the sky on the same night. If the night sky is clear and if the moon is not too bright, you may even catch up about 50 meteors. Let us see what causes the Meteor Shower.
When a comet moves closer to the Sun, some of its ice particles and debris remains. When Earth passes through the same region in space most of the debris fall into the Earth's atmosphere causing Meteors Showers. This is an annual event. Every year when Earth passes through the same region you can notice many meteor showers.
One such Meteor showers can be noticed on 17th November. This Meteor Shower is called as Leonids. Leonids occur every mid november. As mentioned earlier all the meteors appears to come from the same point on the sky. In this case all the meteors appear to come from the constellation of Leo, hence the name. This can be easily explained by this picture.
The above picture shows the constellation of Leo and how the meteors appear to come from the same point.
So wake up very early on the morning of November 17th, and keep looking into the sky near the constellation of Leo. Use Stellarium Software to help yourself find the constellation of Leo. At an average you may spot 10 to 15 meteors an hour. Even if you cannot spot Leo, just keep looking up at the sky between 3:30 am until sunrise. You should be able to catch quite a few meteors.
NOTE: You need to be really patient if you want to catch some meteors. Hope the clouds and the Moon won't spoil the show. And the meteor can be quick that you can easily miss it. So watch carefully.
View this video to get an idea on how you actually see it. Note that this is a fast forward.
I haven't seen a Meteor yet. This is the first time I'm going to hunt for meteors. I hope I'm successful and you too.
8 November 2008
Chandrayaan - I was launched on October 22nd, 2008. After its launch the space craft was put into the Earth's orbit, taking an elliptical path of 22,860 km as apogee (farthest point from the Surface of the Earth) and 255 km as perigee (nearest point from the Surface of the Earth). Since then the space craft was propelled, increasing its distance from Earth and nearing the Moon. Its final orbit around the Earth had an apogee of 3,84,000 km and perigee of 1,019 km until Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) started at around 5 pm for about 800 secs.
LOI is when a space craft is propelled so that it shifts from Earth's Orbit to the Lunar Orbit. At LOI the Earth and the Moon's gravitational force are almost equal. LOI is always a danger since even a small deviation by the space craft would make it crash into the Moon's surface or the Earth's surface or out into the deep space. Experts recall that about 30% of the unmanned moon missions by NASA and Soviet Union have failed during LOI.
Chandrayaan, after completing LOI at around 5:15 pm, is now making an elliptical orbit around the Moon with 7,500 km as aposelene (farthest point from the Surface of the Moon) and 500 km as pericelene (nearest point from the Surface of the Moon). Chandrayaan will further reduce its distance from the Moon to merely about 100 km. This may probably happen on November 14th or 15th.
4 November 2008
These are the first images of Earth taken by Chandrayaan-I on October 29th, 2008 using Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) which is one of the 11 payloads of the spacecraft. The first image was taken at 8 am at a height of 9,000 km showing Northern coast of Australia. The second image was taken at 12:30 pm at a height of 70,000 km showing southern coast of Australia.
22 October 2008
Chandrayaan-II is an Indo-Russian joint venture. Russian federal space agency have already signed a pact with ISRO. "One of the two GSLV missions next year will carry Chandrayaan-II", says ISRO Chairman Mr. G. Madhavan Nair.
Chandrayaan-II would feature a lander and a rover for a soft land on moon. The rover will be designed by Russia’s federal space agency. India may be the second country to land a rover on the moon after USA during NASA's Apollo missions.
Mr. Nair expects more accomodating payloads (experiments) from other space agencies for the second odyssey just as in Chandrayaan-I. Chandrayaan-I carried 11 payloads of which 5 are Indian, 3 are from the European Space Agency, 2 from the NASA and one from Bulgaria.
"Even though China's and Japan's moon satellite (which are still in Moon's orbit) took high resolution pictures of the moon, they aren't as comprehensive as Chandrayaan-I", says former NASA associate administrator Scott Pace. The budget of Chandrayaan-I is also considerably cheaper than that of Japan or China.
This also strenghtens the space race in Asia. Japan, China and now India have successfully launched moon missions. China is leading in the race ever since they put taikonauts (Chinese Astronauts) in space in 2003 and had their first space walk last month. Even though this is India's first space expedition beyond Earth's orbit India is quickly catching up with China. India might even successfully land a rover and also humans on the moon's surface even before China.
Chandrayaan was launched at 6:22am today and by 18 mins the satellite was put into orbit. So far there has not been a problem in the satellite or the rocket. The rocket projected through the designated path perfectly and ISRO says it has hit a “Bull’s Eye”.
I was eagerly waiting with a camera to shoot a video of the rocket on my terrace. Unfortunately over-cast did not help me at all. Thick clouds blocked the view of the rocket completely.
PSLV C-11 with Chandrayaan on its way to the Launch Pad
I will be constantly updating on the Chandrayaan mission and hope that it will successfully reach the moon’s orbit which is due in two weeks time.
20 October 2008
Chandrayaan-I is an un-manned lunar spacecraft (meaning it carries no human). The spacecraft (Chandrayaan-I) will be launched by a modified version of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11). The lunar probe would revolve around Moon for two years taking high resolution images of the lunar surface and also mapping its chemical and mineralogical content. It also concentrates on the polar region where water and ice could possibly be found. The satellite weighs about 1304 kg and the estimated cost is about INR 3.8 billion.
Chandrayaan-I under construction
The Path of Chandrayaan
The Moon Exploration began on September 14, 1959, when Luna 2 was launched by
Chandrayaan-I will be followed by Chandrayaan-II in 2010/11. Chandrayaan-II will consist of the spacecraft itself and a landing platform with the Moon Rover. A moon rover is an automated motorized vehicle which moves around the surface of the moon, collecting soil and rock samples, do in situ chemical analysis and transmit it to the mother-spacecraft, Chandrayaan-II.
A artistic representation of the Chandrayaan-II rover
The Lunar Rover of Apollo 15 with James Irwin
ISRO also plans to undertake a manned space exploration by 2014 (send man to space).
If these missions succeed, then ISRO plans to send a manned mission to the moon on 2020. If ISRO succeeds in this,
I just hope all this works out for
Chandrayaan-I is ready for the launch
People who live in Chennai can actually see the launch of Chandrayaan-I. Look at North at the exactly 6:20am on October 22nd. You should be able to see the rocket shooting upwards provided the clear sky.
1 October 2008
This picture was taken on September 1st, at Perth, Australia. This evening picture shows the crescent Moon along with three planets. The brightest of the three is Venus as the Evening Star. The tiny shining object above Venus is Mercury and the object at the top most is Mars. The three planets are found on the western sky after the sunset. This picture was taken across the Swan River and the six towers on the left of the image surrounds the Perth Cricket Stadium.
10 September 2008
At a purpose-built underground centre by CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, the scientists are carrying out limited tests on a multi-million euro machine called the Large Hadron Collider.
The ultimate aim is to recreate conditions that existed immediately after the Big Bang.
The team hopes to pinpoint dark matter, the name given to unseen particles thought to exist all around us and throughout space.
The experiment, which began at 8 am this morning Irish time, involves smashing protons - one of the building blocks of matter - into each other at velocities only a fraction less than the speed of light.
In the flashes from the collisions, scientists expect to reproduce conditions that existed during the first billionth of a second after the Big Bang at the birth of the universe.
Details on the on-going experiments will be posted very soon.
31 August 2008
Do you see a Sun Spot on the Sun??? Click on the Picture to see it in a larger resolution. You can now clearly see that its not a Sun Spot but a space Station. It is the International Space Station (ISS) trasiting the Sun. As the ISS moves around the Earth, the space station (very rarely) appears to move across the surface of the Sun as in this Picture.
16 August 2008
The Moon revolves around the Earth just as Earth revolves around the Sun. Moon takes approximately 30 days to move around the Earth. During this revolution the Moon comes in between the Earth and the Sun once every 30 days which we call as New Moon. On certain New Moon days the Moon is exactly in between the Earth and the Sun such that the Moon blocks the sun light, thus creating a shadow on the surface of the Earth. The Moon appears to move across the surface of the Sun when viewed from those shadowed area. This phenomenon is known as Solar Eclipse.
There are three types of Solar Eclipse.
Partial Solar Eclipse:
When viewed from Earth the Moon blocks a part of the Sun and does not block it completely. This is known as Partial Solar Eclipse. The region under the penumbra experiences the Partial Solar Eclipse. Partial Solar Eclipse is not dangerous to view at all. But continuous view of Sun can create some damage to the eye and hence it can be viewed through any Sun Glass.
Total Solar Eclipse:
This occurs when the Moon completely blocks the Sun letting no light reach the Earth. The region under the umbra experiences the Total Solar Eclipse. The total Solar Eclipse begins with the partial eclipse with the Moon moving slowly across the surface of the Sun until it completely blocks the Sun. For about a minute the sky would be dark. Then as the Moon continues to move a bright light comes out from one end of the Sun which looks like a Diamond Ring and hence it is called so. Since a great amount of light comes in within a fraction of a second it can blind us permanently when tried to view. Total Solar Eclipse can be viewed using a special google created for the eclipse.
This is the most rarest of all eclipses. This occurs when the Moon is farthest from Earth during the eclipse. This occurs when the shadow of the Sun could not reach the Earth or when the Earth is at antumbra. The Moon appears smaller than the sun when viewed from Earth and hence at a Total eclipse the Moon does not block the Sun entirely but only the center portion of it. The outer surface of the Sun is clearly seen.
The following image explains more about the Umbra, Penumbra and Antumbra and the reason why we experience partial, total or annular eclipse.
India experienced a Partial Solar Eclipse as recently as August 1st, 2008. And that was the day I heard so many rumors about the Eclipse which were not true. I tried telling my friends but none believed me. But I would like to share it to all so that none would believe such rumors next time.
Some of them were very scared that staying outside on such days will affect their health. The only trouble Solar Eclipse gives us is blinding us only when we look at the Sun at a perfect Total Solar Eclipse. Watching a Partial Solar Eclipse is like watching the Sun any other day which does not create much damage except by continuous looking at it.
One such friend of mine didn't have his lunch saying that he heard that people should not eat during a Solar Eclipse in a News Channel. Later when I viewed the same channel I realized that it was a superstitions that was brought out by the News Channel. In reality Solar Eclipse does not change our body mechanism by any way and hence we need not lose our appetite on the eclipse day.
The best of all was a conversation between two girls that i over heard as I was walking on the road. As it started drizzling i heard them talk.
Girl 1: Oh God!! Its about to rain.
Girl 2: It cant rain today. Its Solar Eclipse.
What's Solar Eclipse got to do with the clouds or rain? Its simply rumors and people need not be fooled by such things. Solar Eclipse does not create any damages to us other than blinding us.
The next Total Solar eclipse in India occurs on January 26th, 2009 and the next Annular Eclipse occurs on January 15th, 2010.
9 July 2008
Here is a beautiful picture of Venus transitting Jupiter. This one is not an original picture. This is a screen shot from the Stellarium software. Do you want to view this in stellarium? Set your location to Chennai (India) and the date and time to November 22nd, 2065, 6:11pm. Click on either Venus or Jupiter and zoom in to see the beautiful transit. Venus transits only between 6:07 to 6:15 pm IST.
NOTE: Don't forget to turn off the ground and the atmosphere.
20 June 2008
Every object in space move in a particular direction. By coincidence any two objects may come in the same line of sight from Earth which causes Occultation. The most famous occultation is the Eclipse.
In case of Solar Eclipse, the Moon comes in between the Sun and the Earth. Hence the Moon and the Sun are in the same line of sight. The Moon appears to block the Sun from the view or the Moon occults the Sun.
But this is not the case in the Lunar Eclipse. In Lunar Eclipse it is the Earth that occults the Moon when observed from the Sun and not from the Earth. Hence Lunar Eclipse cannot be called the Occultation.
The term Transit is used when one object appears to move across the face of another object. Usually one of the object is small when compared to the other. The most famous transits are that of Mercury and Venus over the Sun.
The other types of occultation are when a star occults another star or when a satellite occults another satellite. This can only be observed through telescopes.
Another rare type of occultation is when a planet occults another planet. It is not seen very often. Here is the list of occultation by planets that occured in the past and the ones which will occur in the future.
* 19 Sep 1702 - Jupiter occults Neptune
* 20 Jul 1705 - Mercury transits Jupiter
* 14 Jul 1708 - Mercury occults Uranus
* 4 Oct 1708 - Mercury transits Jupiter
* 28 May 1737 - Venus occults Mercury
* 29 Aug 1771 - Venus transits Saturn
* 21 Jul 1793 - Mercury occults Uranus
* 9 Dec 1808 - Mercury transits Saturn
* 3 Jan 1818 - Venus transits Jupiter
* 22 Nov 2065 - Venus transits Jupiter
* 15 Jul 2067 - Mercury occults Neptune
* 11 Aug 2079 - Mercury occults Mars
* 27 Oct 2088 - Mercury transits Jupiter
* 7 Apr 2094 - Mercury transits Jupiter
* 21 Aug 2104 - Venus occults Neptune
* 14 Sep 2123 - Venus transits Jupiter
* 29 Jul 2126 - Mercury occults Mars
* 3 Dec 2133 - Venus occults Mercury
Occultation can also occur in other types such as Moon occulting a star, Moon occulting a planet, Planet occulting a satellite, etc.
The most recent occultation took place on 10th May, 2008 when the Moon occulted the planet Mars at around 8pm IST. It was clearly visible even at Chennai.
1 April 2008
Blasting into a dark night sky, the Space Shuttle Endeavour began its latest journey to orbit in the early morning hours of March 11. In this stunning picture following the launch, the glare from Endeavour's three main rocket engines and flanking solid fuel booster rockets illuminates the orbiter's tail section and the large, orange external fuel tank. Embarking on mission STS-123, Endeavour left Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, ferrying a crew of seven astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The cargo included the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system. Astronauts will conduct a series of space walks to install the new equipment during the 16-day mission, the longest shuttle mission to the ISS.
7 March 2008
Interested in Astronomy? Love to look into the night sky? Being an amateur you would find it very difficult to identify stars and planets and other stuffs. But it can be made easy using certain Planetarium Softwares. These softwares show you how a night sky may look like at any time from any place. These softwares label every star so that you can identify it in the sky easily using the software. There are many such softwares available in the internet. I came across one such software which is very user-friendly.
Stellarium 0.9.1 is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. You can set your coordinates such as your location and time zone and look through the night sky. This software also shows you the planets, nebulae, galaxies, comets, meteors, etc. Every star, planet or a galaxy is labeled which makes it user-friendly. You can zoom into any stars or planets to know how it looks like in a telescope. You can also see the night sky of any time at any year. It even shows you the night sky of the year 2100.
Here are some of the Screen Shots of the software.
The full view of the constellations.
A shooting star passing near the Moon.
A zoomed in view of the Planet Jupiter.
A zoomed in view of a nebula.