Night Vision

Night Vision 3.1 is here!

Night Vision is a "planetarium" program that will display the heavens from any location on earth. Viewing options allow the user to control which sky objects to display, which font to use, and manipulation of various star parameters. Time may be set to run at multiple speeds, including backwards. Star charts may be printed.

Night Vision is written in 100% pure Java, allowing it to run on all major desktop systems. (Includes PCs, Macs, Linux, ...)

Version 3.1 adds:

A view of Night Vision
Night Vision 2.0 picture

The vertical scrollbar at the right side of the window controls the altitude, or the angle from the horizon to the center of the view (center of window). With the scroll at the top the view is straight up (the zenith). Moving the scroll to the middle shows the view along the horizon, and moving it to the bottom shows the view through the earth (the nadir). Tinting will indicate where the earth blocks the view. (This horizon indication can be turned off.)

The horizontal scrollbar at the bottom of the window controls the azimuth, or direction along the horizon. With the scroll in the center, the view towards the horizon is to the south. Moving the scroll to the right moves the view to the west, then the north. Moving the scroll to the left moves the view to the east, then the north. Thus north can be achieved by moving the scroll either to the far right or the far left.

The scrollbar at the left side of the window controls the zoom (or magnification) of the view. To zoom in, move the scroll up. To zoom out, move the scroll down.

The scrollbar at the top of the window rotates the view around its center.

Solar system window
Solar system window


- Software -

Night Vision should run on any computer that contains a recent Java Runtime Environment (Java 1.4 or later). Almost all computers sold in recent years meet this requirement. (In the unlikely event that yours does not, the Java software can be downloaded from the Java download website.)

- Hardware -

A minimum recommendation is at least a 200MHz Pentium or comparable processor with 64MB of RAM. Most systems created this millennium should have no problem running Night Vision.

Translating Night Vision

Night Vision has been designed to be readily translable into other languages. See the online help for information.

How to get Night Vision

Windows users can click here (3.2MB) to get a self-installing package. (Clicking the link is sufficient on some web browsers. On others a single file will be downloaded onto your PC. Remember where you downloaded it to, find it, and then execute it to install.)

Mac OS X users can click here (12.8MB) to get a self-installing package. Click here if installing to OS 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Linux users can click here (6.9MB) to get a self-installing package. (Depending on the Linux distribution being used, it may be advisable to install the Sun (rather than GNU) Java Runtime Environment.)

Users of other operating systems, and those who prefer manual installation, can click here (2.8MB). (Download to a clean directory, unzip, and use a web browser to follow the directions in nvj.html).

Source code is available here (2.9MB).

Giampiero Spezzano has created a larger deepsky catalog here. (Over 160 more objects.) Place in the installation directory (Mac and Linux - e.g. /home/<user>/NigntVision/) or the "Night Vision" folder in the user's documents folder (Windows).

Mac and Linux installable packages are created with BitRock InstallBuilder, a crossplatform installer builder.


Softoxi created a video and was very complimentary with the following kind words:
***** "If you want a tool that will allow you to see how the stars in the sky look from any part of the globe, then you should definitely try Night Vision. This awesome application would make a great addition to the software collection of anyone who's into astronomy."

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Softpedia has certified the Mac and Windows versions with the following:

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Softepic list both the Mac and Windows versions.

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Although Night Vision is targeted for astronomy enthusiasts, it is certainly useful for other interests, e.g. astrology and religious purposes. In May 2010 ASTROLOGYWIZARD featured this page for their
Site of the Week
with the following kind words:

"It is straightforward, informative, intuitive, fully customisable and generally a joy to use."

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John Obri has created a Macedonian translation of this page.
(by Web Geek Science)

You may Email me at:

Please prefix your Email subject line with [NV], as in

  Subject: [NV] Like your program!
so that it is easily distinguishable from SPAM and is less likely to get inadvertently deleted.

This page last updated October 2, 2012