Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc. announced today the official launch of the open source astronomy and visualization software Nightshade.
"Nightshade offers a realistic simulation of the sky when and where the user chooses," according the press statement. "Nightshade renders over 100,000 stars in stunning realism and in situ images of deep sky objects of note, including many Hubble Space Telescope images."
Users of the open source application can view far-off moons, zoom in on planets and trace orbits and trails.
Nightshade is a fork of Stellarium. While Digitalis worked closely with the Stellarium project, it became necessary to start a new open source community project.
"A fork is always a difficult situation in the open source world," said Robert Spearman, Digitalis President and co-founder. "We bear no ill will towards the Stellarium project, but for many reasons we feel this is the only way to guarantee that the needs of the planetarium community will be listened to. Now, with a growing community and a clean slate to start from, I think Nightshade can really take off."