SkyMap Pro 5
Service Packs and Bug Fixes
The following updated program files for SkyMap Pro 5 are available for download:
This service pack "patches" SkyMap Pro 5 to the latest version 5.0.25. Click the link below to download the service pack.
To apply the service pack, simply run the downloaded program and follow the prompts on screen to locate the SkyMap Pro 5 installation directory. The service pack will "patch" any older version of the program to create the latest version. Note that each service pack includes all the changes made in all previous service packs.
It appears that many Windows 95 and 98 video drivers have problems when asked to draw a very large circle or ellipse "outside" the visible area of the screen, either crashing or just "hanging up" the application; this problem does not occur under Windows NT. This can result in SkyMap crashing or hanging up if (for example) you have the map centred on the Pleiades, then zoom in to a very, very small field of view.
SkyMap now checks the size of deep sky objects before drawing them, and doesn't display the "outline" of the object if that outline is larger than the screen.
SkyMap maps can have two "orientations" - they can be aligned with either the alt/az or the RA/dec coordinate grid. Previously, this alignment occurred according to the visibility of the alt/az grid - the program by default switched to alt/az orientation if the alt/az grid was visible, and to RA/dec orientation otherwise. By popular request, map orientation is now independent of grid visibility - it can now be explicitly specified for each view level by means of an additional setting on the "File/Preferences/Levels" dialog.
Bug fix: In the planet configuration dialog, there is a level setting which specifies the point at which the program switches from displaying planets using a magnitude-dependent symbol (ie the same way that stars are drawn) to displaying the planet using a symbol of the correct physical size. According to the program's documentation, setting this value to zero should have disabled this switch, so that planets were displayed in the same way as stars at all view levels. This didn't work correctly, but now does.
Some computer-controlled telescopes - most notably the Meade Autostar - are extremely slow to respond to commands from the computer. Normally, when controlling a telescope, SkyMap asks the telescope "where are you pointing?" every 1/4 of a second and uses the information to update the position of the cross-hair telescope cursor on the star chart; in the case of the Autostar, this makes SkyMap run very slowly because it's spending all its time waiting for the Autostar to tell it where it's currently pointing.
To get around this problem the "General Configuration" dialog, displayed via the File/Preferences/General... menu item, now has an additional item allowing you to enter the number of 1/4-second "ticks" after which the telescope position will be updated. Setting this to a value of 4, for example, will result in the telescope cross-hair position only being updated every 1 second. If you find that SkyMap runs slowly when controlling a telescope, increasing this value should improve the situation.
If an ephemeris was generated for an asteroid of comet and "light travel time" was one of the items selected for inclusion in the ephemeris, the displayed value would always be extremely small. This was because the value was being displayed in days, rather than minutes as it should have been. This has been corrected. Note that this was purely a "display" bug - the correct light time was being used in the calculation of the object's position.
When external data catalogs had been added to the program, loading a saved map file always switched on all external data catalogs. This has been corrected; when a map file is loaded, external catalogs are now activated or deactivated according to the view level of the loaded map.
Exiting the program when the SkyMap Pro window was either maximized or minimized failed to save the current toolbar positions correctly. This has been fixed.
The "Day and Night" dialog was drawn incorrectly when twilight both started and ended on the same "side" of local midnight, as often happens in high latitudes in summer when "daylight saving time" alters the local time zone. The dialog has been completely re-written and should now work correctly in all circumstances.
Bug fix: Under certain circumstances, the initial angle of a camera or CCD frame would be slightly different from that of the previous frame. This has been corrected by storing the frame angle in units of 1/100th of a degree, rather than whole degrees. A side-effect of this change is that if you load an old map file which has a camera/CCD frame on, the frame will be at the wrong angle.
Bug fix: On a colour printout, line/arrow annotation objects were printed using the screen colour rather than the printer colour.
Minor change: By popular request, changing the map time no longer removes annotations and object tracks from the map; they must now be explicitly removed using the "View/Clean Up Map" menu item.
Bug fix: When printing a map, if the "scaling" was set to "Fit horizontally" on the "Layout" page of the print dialog, the Sun and Moon's diameter was incorrect on the printed map.
Enhancement: This service pack adds to SkyMap Pro 5 the ability to use the Minor Planet Center's MPCORB asteroid database. MPCORB contains orbital elements for all asteroids for which predictions can reliably be made; it is updated daily, and currently contains information on over 30,000 objects. The latest version of the catalog can always be downloaded from:
After downloading the zipped database, unzip it to extract the uncompressed database file "MPCORB.DAT", and copy this file to the "Data" subdirectory of the SkyMap Pro 5 installation directory. To use the MPCORB database, click the "Asteroid" button on the "Objects" toolbar to display the Asteroid Configuration Dialog, go to the "Catalog" page, and set the "Catalog Selection" to "External MPCORB catalog". Exit the dialog, and asteroid positions will be computed from the MPCORB database. Select "File/Save Defaults" if you want SkyMap to use this as its default asteroid catalog.
Minor bug fix: On the asteroid configuration dialog, clicking the "Open" button to open a new internal asteroid catalog would always read the new catalog into memory (a lengthy process), even if the catalog editing feature had not been switched on. The new catalog is now only loaded into memory if the "Edit Catalog" button had been used previously to enable catalog editing; this greatly speeds up the process of selecting a new internal asteroid catalog.
Modification: SkyMap Pro 5 can read asteroid positions from an external "ASTORB" asteroid catalog downloaded from the Internet. The numbered asteroids have now reached (or are about to reach) number 10000, so an additional space has been added in the data record for the extra digit. The program has been modified to work correctly with the new data file format, which affects any ASTORB database downloaded on or after Jan 7, 1999. Note that the new version of the program will not work correctly with old ASTORB data files.
Bug fix: "Parallax" corrections for solar system objects didn't work correctly if the observer was located at exactly the north or south pole. This only really had a significant effect in the case of the Moon.
Bug fix: Adding a text label to a map and then printing the map would sometimes cause the program to crash with an "Exception 10h" error. This only occurred under Windows 95, not under Windows 98 or Windows NT4. This was due to uninitialized floating point data in one of the program's data structures.
Bug fix: Displaying the information dialog for a galaxy only present in the PGC galaxy catalog (ie a faint galaxy) would incorrectly describe the galaxy as a "planetary nebula", and show random numbers for the right ascension, declination, altitude and azimuth of the galaxy.