Software feasible for astronomy are numerous and may have different system requirements. But keeping the best ones in the frame i.e Maxlm DL, Starry Night Pro and Stellarium, we need to have a laptop that covers the pre-requisites for running all these software on a single machine. For that, we carried out a comparative study, and this is what we have:
1. Operating system
Although Maxlm DL is compatible with older versions like Windows XP, Windows Server 2003; the other two are not and require Windows Vista at the least. Particularly Stellarium needs at least Windows 7. So, for you to be able to run all these software on your machine, you should look for nothing below Windows 7. In fact, to be on the safer side, get one with Windows 8. For Mac users, anything above OS X 10.8.5 is doable.
Latest quad-core or Intel core processors would suffice for astronomy software like these. Although, 1 GHz is the minimum we would recommend, the optimum processor speed for handling such applications is 1.5GHz, which is quite common in laptops today.
Most of the astronomy software use 3D models for better perceptibility and user-friendly presentation, and these three here are no different. OpenGL 1.4 support capable Graphics card with at least 1GB overall rendering capability is a must. The better the graphics, the smoother the software functions. But take note, these software are not graphics intensive, so you don’t have to spend too much on it unless you are also considering gaming.
Speaking of RAM, the minimum amount required for Stellarium is 512MB, but then at that much, the application would probably be dragging. Besides, most of the astronomy applications need 1GB of RAM to go smooth. So remember, no less than a GB shall you even consider.
5. Disk Space
Although Stellarium and Maxlm DL need a mere 250MB and 100MB of disk space respectively, the Starry Night Pro Plus version demands 12GB of space on your disk. Also, the files would need faster access. So, if you could afford an SSD; that could be great. HDDs are also alright for the purpose and nevertheless, do a fine job.
Other the usual requirements, 64-bit drivers would be required if your PC has a 64-bit architecture. The resolution shall also be at least 1024 x 768 for sharp visibility.
Top 3 laptops for Astronomy
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