Aladin is an interactive sky atlas that allows to look at and examine digitized astronomical photos. The program is considered to be a tool for professional astronomers who work in science and education. The software is distributed for free.
The Aladin atlas was created as a client application written in the Java language and uses the Internet to connect to different open astronomical catalogues and data bases such as NASA, SIMBAD, VizieR and others. The program interacts with a whole range of both big and small projects that provide access to the newest information that can be obtained directly from the sources – research institutes, observatories, portals and data centers.
The sky atlas’s tools help you to easily navigate through the sky of stars with the help of the mini map of the visible universe. Besides that, information about the space objects can be found by entering their name or coordinates in the “degrees-minutes-seconds” format.
The interface may seem a little complex at first. Viewing the cosmic space on small screens is inconvenient that is because the developers try to place a lot of various information about the objects, not mentioning the visual sky map, into the limited control elements – sliders, dropdown menus and quick access icons.
The prompt area is located in the right part of the main window and takes a lot of place. It will help you to orientate among the available functions. The left panel, the so called tree of data, shows user provided resources and allows to download catalogues and collections of specific information, search for objects of interest and also filter the results by certain criterions.
Apart from the popular file formats like JPG, PNG, GIF, the program supports the files that were created specifically for working with scientific data. For example, the FITS, TSV, CSV and VO formats.
The sky atlas was created for the professional needs and is probably not for beginners because it contains a huge amount of information that is useful only for skilled people.
For the program to work correctly, you need to have virtual software to run Java applications - Java Runtime Environment which tools are also included into the free JDK package.