Stargazer comes from the same stable as Starsphere, which we reviewed last month. This review should have been in last month as well, but was cut at the last minute because of room.
This package has a database of 340 stars with 34 constellations. As with some of the programs we looked at last month a star map can be plotted but this time the user can only select a view from Europe or North America, giving you only a portion of the northern hemisphere. However it does have a couple of extra options that may make it more useful. Option one allows the user to plot star maps, every star on the map being of the same size and brilliance. The constellations cannot be joined up as with Starsphere but instead the name of each of them is shown at the bottom of the screen as they are plotted. This works well while you are watching the plot but once that's complete it's very difficult to spot individual constellations. There is an option for plotting single constellations, in isolation, where some attempt has been made to give scale in size but not brilliance. After the plot the major stars are marked and their names given. The Quiz option poses questions on Latin and English star and constellation names as well as asking questions on such mind-blowing matters as Culmination Months. A small niggle arises here - I became tired of the Quiz mode after five wrong guesses but found no other way to escape back to the main menu other than sit there and let the machine humiliate me for a further five questions.
The last option, Starfax, provides basic information on the prime star of each constellation, this includes a diagram to show the star's magnitude, brightness and position in relation to our Sun. Other facts to be gleaned include the surface temperature, distance in light years from Sol and the apparent colour.
The program is menu-driven, and again the system used is very neat. A great deal of attention has been paid to error trapping, so it should be hard to crash; I managed once but was unable to do so again. On the whole a tidy, well thought out package that has placed an emphasis on facts and figures rather than map plots. The learning and quiz mode should prove to be both fun and useful in an educational environment.
CRITICISMGeneral Rating: Not Rated