“Hallo Northern Sky” (aka HNSKY) is a free planetarium package for Windows.
Aimed at experienced amateur astronomers, the program can control telescopes via ASCOM or INDI, has a detailed deep sky database covering more than 30,000 objects, and supports searching online in various professional astronomical databases.
No use for any of that? No problem, the program can also be used by anyone who likes to browse deep space images.
Open HNKSKY and it displays a view of the sky from the default location. (You can update this to match your own, but if you just want to look at pictures that isn’t necessary.)
Spin the mouse wheel to zoom in and out and you’ll see labels showing you the location of various planets and stars.
If you see “Saturn”, maybe, and decide you’d like to see what the planet’s rings look like, you can spin the mouse wheel some more to zoom in, or click and drag to draw a rectangle around the area you’d like to view.
Alternatively, click Search, type Saturn and press Enter to go to the planet directly. Enter other planets in the Search box to take a look, or click buttons like Stars, Asteroids or Comets to see what’s available.
Don’t expect too much– these starting images look reasonable, but they’re not high resolution. If you want something better then in theory you can right-click, select “Get DSS image from internet” and choose a source, but for some reason this didn’t work for us. One source displayed an error message, the other gave us pixelated red grids rather than real sky imagery. A pity, but we’ve no idea if this was an issue relating mostly to us, or the program, so it’s possible you might be luckier.
Specification: “Hallo Northern Sky” 3.2.3a:
Platforms:Windows 7 (32 bit),Windows 7 (64 bit),Windows 8,windows 10,LinuxVersion:3.2.3aLicence:FreewareDeveloper:HNSKY