Aciqra 2.2

Aciqra 2.2 (Grand Canyon) is the second release of Aciqra 2 being made available on May 20, 2012, five months after the release of Aciqra 2.1. It is a mid-year release -- smaller than an end-of-year release yet still substantial enough to be considered a major release. Numerous improvements including several important additions have been made in this release improving its overall usability and abilities.

When viewing Jupiter through any small telescope, the most notable features are its 4 major moons -- the Galilean satellites, named for Galileo who first discovered them in 1610. For the first time, these moons are visible in Aciqra when zoomed in on Jupiter. This uses the E5 algorithm to position the satellites with high accuracy.

The time control feature is very useful for watching the movement of an object over time. This requires enabling tracking for Earth's rotation and repeatedly stepping forward by a certain unit of time. Previously, tracking would be lost when stepping forward multiple times too quickly. The resolution of this issue makes it possible to view celestial events one step at a time without the event instantly disappearing from the screen from loss of tracking.

Most deep space objects cannot be accurately represented by a circle. They tend to be elongated or distorted in some way. Aciqra 2.2 partially solves this problem by representing deep space objects as ellipses. This aides in identification as it gives a general idea of objects' actual appearances -- especially those of galaxies. Many galaxies are little more than featureless disks in small telescopes. Aciqra 2.2 represents them exactly as such. Furthermore, deep space objects are realistically colored if a B-V index is provided.

Despite the advance in visual appearance, the goal of Aciqra is not to be visually pleasing, but rather, to be informative. This is accomplished through the information it provides about the various objects it renders. This release brings the addition of rise, set and transit prediction -- crucial data for anyone planning for observing or collecting data. In addition to magnitude information, surface brightness is now given to help estimate the apparent brightness of extended objects.

Perhaps the most important improvement in Aciqra 2.2 is the addition of a search feature. This feature makes navigating to any object as easy as typing its name and pressing enter twice -- once to find all objects with the name and once to center the screen on the object. This makes it possible to find dim objects that are not apparent or even visible when zoomed out such as Ceres or Neptune. Moreover, it saves time in navigating to any object including the Sun and Moon eliminating the need to zoom out and endure the tedious process of a visually search of the entire sky.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the improvements made to Aciqra since 2.1. A complete changelog is avaiable in the official release statement on Caglow Central.

Downloads are available from SourceForge and from Caglow Central.

Screenshots: 
May 20, 2012 annular eclipse from the Grand Canyon.
Transit of Venus on June 5, 2012.
Partial lunar eclipse on June 4, 2012.