Provides many visual effects, including the Milky Way, twinkling stars, shooting stars, clouds and light pollution.
Pros & Cons:
Stellarium creates fairly realistic views of the sky. The basic program has over 600,000 stars (roughly up to magnitude 9.9) with another 240 million available as add-ons. This is the only free program that shows constellation groupings for other cultures.
The zoom-in shows actual images of planets and some deep space objects.
Stellarium provides many visual effects, including the Milky Way, twinkling stars, shooting stars, clouds, and light pollution. Several landscapes are included.
The telescope control plug-in allows Stellarium to control a computerized telescope. The Satellites plug in calculates and renders satellites in Earth orbit from NORAD/TLE data.
Its catalog is weak in comets and asteroids.
The application is open source and it runs across multiple platforms including Windows, Linux and Mac OS. The portable version available here.
Stellarium was reviewed by Gizmos Freeware on based on version 0.10.6.1.