A guide to the programs that can help you along on your astronomy endeavors.
A few years ago, a friend of mine, who is also an advanced amateur astronomer, had something to say about the time in which we live: "I cannot remember life before the Internet." I have to agree. Today, I zoom along on the information superhighway with hardly a glance back. And I'm really impressed with current computer programs that convey ideas related to astronomy or perform tasks helpful to those who do astronomy. Software has come a long way in the past two decades. It's true that not a lot of astronomy programs are out there, all things considered. However, the ones that do exist are of high quality.
Before we begin, please allow me a one-word caveat: upgrade. To software users, this is a helpful word. To an author, it is not. I write this section with the full knowledge that changes in software are inevitable. Some of the software packages I list here will change over time, and changes in software are usually for the better. Also, be on the lookout for new programs not listed here that perform astronomy-related tasks. In other words, don't look at this list as the final word on astronomy software.