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Review - SkySafari 5 Pro for Mac OS X

Posted: 1 June 2016

photo SkySafari 5 Pro for Mac OS X
Simulation Curriculum Corp.

This is a short update to my older review of SkySafari Pro for Mac OS X. Please see that review for the basics of SkySafari Pro.

Besides SkySafari 5 Pro for Mac OS X, there are also SkySafari 5 Basic ($10) and SkySafari 5 Plus ($30) versions available from the Mac App Store. There are versions of SkySafari for iOS and Android as well. See my review of the iOS version for more about SkySafari 5 Pro as the Mac version is very similar.

Here's what's new in this version (from the Mac App Store description):

1) Tonight at a Glance: the Sun, Moon, Planets, ISS, and Iridium flares in one handy view!
2) Notifications when the ISS will pass overhead, when Iridium satellites flare, and more!
3) Completely new sounds, and a new look to the sky and horizon.
4) Object lists in the Search menu now show thumbnail images. New options in Advanced Search.
5) Updated object descriptions. Every object now has a description!
6) iCloud sync for your settings and observing lists! Change them on one device, and synchronize your changes across all your Mac and iOS devices!
7) An on-line repository of observing lists from experienced amateur astronomers. A "tour mode" that guides you through objects in each list!
8) An improved deep sky database with Abell and Hickson galaxy clusters, and globular clusters in M 31.
9) Galaxy View shows the position of deep sky objects in our Milky Way!
10) A handy Digitized Sky Survey viewer that lets you download images from the DSS!
11) Improved multi-star alignment for telescopes with digital setting circles. Add Barlows and Focal Reducers to your equipment list!
12) Improved 3D OpenGL renderings of the ISS, HST, Ceres, Vesta, Pluto, Charon, and many other solar system objects and spacecraft.
If you haven't used SkySafari Pro before, here's what you can do with it.
* Simulate the night sky up to 10,000 years in the past or future! Animate meteor showers, conjunctions, eclipses, and other celestial events with Time Flow.
* Search from our extensive database, and follow the arrow to objects in the sky. See spectacular views of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and other planets!
* Learn the history, mythology, and science of astronomy! Browse over 1500 object descriptions and astronomical images. Explore NASA space missions!
* Control your telescope! SkySafari 5 Pro adds wired or wireless control for Celestron, Meade, Orion, SkyWatcher, and many other telescopes. Point your GoTo or “Push-To” telescope anywhere in the sky! Requires SkyFi (sold separately).
* Plan observing sessions with Observing Lists, log your observations, and share with friends!
All this is built into SkySafari 5 Pro – no need for an Internet connection. SkySafari 5 Pro will revolutionize your astronomical viewing experience and replace desktop astronomy software costing 10 times more.

Additional Features:
* 25 million stars from both Hubble Guide Star catalogs; 740,000 galaxies down to the 18th magnitude; over 630,000 solar system objects; and satellites like the International Space Station (ISS).
* NASA’s latest LRO Moon maps, with 8X the resolution of any other SkySafari versions, and hi-res Earth and Mars maps.
* Animated meteor showers with complete viewing information & spectacular graphics.
* Night Vision – Preserve your eyesight after dark.
* Advanced Search – Find objects using properties other than their name. Results are sortable by name, number, magnitude, RA, and more!
* Orbit Mode – Leave the Earth’s surface behind, and fly through our solar system.
* Apple Maps Integration – Choose your location from a built-in Maps view.
* Horizon Panoramas – choose from 12 hi-res vistas, or customize your own!

More details are available at

After purchasing the new version from the Mac App Store, and then installating and launching of the new version, I was not prompted to update settings from the previously installed version. Seems like there should have been such a prompt as a convenience to the user. However, I was able to save my version 4 settings and observing list to local files and import those into version 5. All seemed to go OK with that. I should note that version 5 supports iCloud syncing. If I had set up SkySafari 5 Pro for iOS to sync my settings and observing lists via iCloud, then the Mac version could have used those by enabling iCloud syncing in the Mac version.

This is the main screen with the Info panel on the left as seen on my 27" iMac:


As a frequent user of previous versions of SkySafari Pro I found using version 5 an easy transition. All the capabilities (and there are many) are where they should and the program operates as before.


If you use version 4 and do not need or want any of the new version 5 capabilities, then you can continue using version 4 and save yourself $60 (there is no upgrade for users of previous versions). On the other hand, if you do move to version 5 you will appreciate all the new capabilities.

If you don't already use one of the SkySafari versions then I highly recommend you get the version that is appropriate for you, whether that be Mac, iOS, or Android. SkySafari is the BEST planetarium and sky charting application available.

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