A few days ago we posted about new functionality added to the Virtual Globe - support of the Sun and the Moon (with appropriate phases support). Today we want to introduce planets!
In KStars you can observe any real object in the sky, starting from the Moon, finishing with Deep Sky Objects. As well as in KStars, we want alike support in Marble, so you can go deeper and try to explore not the world only, but the Sky also.
To show what Marble can do, I’d like to talk about planet conjuction in June 7: the Moon and Mars (The Moon will pass within two degrees of the the planet Mars in the evening sky. The gibbous moon will be at magnitude -12.2 and Mars will be at magnitude -0.8). Conjunctions are rare events where two or more objects will appear extremely close together in the night sky. The two bright celestial bodies will come unusually close to each other (like planets or moon), only a quarter of a degree, in the early morning sky. This rare, double-object event is definitely one not to miss. Look for the bright planets in the east just before sunrise.
In case of the Marble, you don’t need to wait until June 7, to see, how does it look like. You may just change the time control, by specifing this to correct time (in our case it is 7.6.2014).
There is also another conjuction this year: of Venus and Jupiter. It’s date is August 18. But we won’t talk about it in terms of this article. Instead, you will have a chance to play around and experiment, as soon as we have this feature tagged and released (you will have it in master, if building from sources)! As said above: start Marble (which you can get on marble.kde.org), set Time Control in Edit menu entry to 7 Jun 2014 and find the Moon there. You’ll find Mars as well!
You easily can turn off all or specific planet. To do such, you should find an empty space on the Sky, right-mouse click and you see context menu with all features (e.g. disabling/enabling all planets). To control specific planets, go to Configure… dialog.
We also added proper sunshading for all Planets (previously, we had it only for the Earth). For example, it’s supported by Mars. In order to prove it, we will show you two screenshots. From the Mars24 application and from the Marble (both in Flat projection). Compare them.