My all-time favorite planetarium software program is Voyager 4.5 from Carina Software. Hardly a day goes by when I am not using it, and my use of Voyager goes all the way back to 1993. The current version for Mac OS X (and Windows) is 4.5.7. Sadly, the last update was in 2010. I wish there was something we could do to ensure that Voyager will be maintained and enhanced in the future.
Speaking of maintenance, in 2015 Voyager ceased being able to import comet and asteroid orbital elements through its automatic Updates process. This happened because the URL changed for both. Seems like a pretty easy fix to me. If Carina won’t fix it, then maybe someone can edit the executable and change the two URLs?
Fortunately, you can still manually import these orbital elements by following these instructions.
- Navigate your web browser to https://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/Soft00Cmt.txt and save this page to a file, which will automatically be called Soft00cmt.txt. You can save it anywhere, but I’d suggest you save it in the Import Files folder in the Voyager 4.5 main directory within your Applications folder.
- In Voyager, go to File : Import : Comet Orbit File…
- Navigate to Applications : Voyager 4.5 : Import Files : Soft00Cmt.txt and click Open. You will get a message box asking “Before importing new data, do you want to delete all current asteroid/comet/satellite data?” Click Yes. Next you will see an Import results box showing you the number of comets added to Voyager’s database. Click OK.
- Navigate your web browser to https://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/MPCORB.html and under Available Files right click on MPCORB.DAT (uncompressed) and Save Link As… to your Voyager 4.5 Import Files folder. Do not open this file in your web browser as it is over 147 Mb in size! The file saved is called MPCORB.DAT.
- Navigate to Applications : Voyager 4.5 : Import Files : MPCORB.DAT and edit the MPCORB.DAT file with the editor of your choice. Remove the header lines at the top of the file right down through the line of dashes, and save the file.
- In Voyager, go to File : Import : Asteroid Orbit File…
- Navigate to Applications : Voyager 4.5 : Import Files : MPCORB.DAT and click Open. You will get a message box asking “Before importing new data, do you want to delete all current asteroid/comet/satellite data?” Click Yes. It will take a while to import all the asteroids, and then you will see an Import results box showing you the number of asteroids (and transNeptunian objects, by the way) added to Voyager’s database. Click OK.
9 thoughts on “Voyager 4.5 by Carina Software”
The Comet Import function no longer appears to work when running Voyager 4.5.7 under macOS Sierra 10.12.1, nor does it work for Windows 10. When I tried to re-install Voyager 4.5.7 under macOS Sierra, I could not create a registration file, perhaps due to permissions issues. This may be the beginning of the end for this venerable software.
I started playing around with SkySafari 5 Pro, which has some nice similarities with Voyager (not surprising, since Tim DeBenedictis had a big hand in both), but I think that Voyager is still hands down easier to use. For example, I use Voyager to create my weekly Planet Visibility report, and it takes far fewer mouse clicks (and far less time) to do it with Voyager as compared with SkySafari. Also, SkySafari does not include some features that I use all the time in Voyager, such as the Conjunction Search. I’ll be continuing to use Voyager, even if I have to run it on an old computer and older Mac OS X.
Updated January 29, 2018
I have had no problems using Voyager 4.5.7 under MacOS High Sierra (except the above mentioned updating comets and asteroid tables). It runs fine and controls my Celestron CGEM II mount and Advanced VX mounts with no glitches. All works well with Windows 10, too except it locks up when I try to connect it to one of my mounts.
Thanks for your comments, Jim. My latest trepidation with Voyager 4.5.7 is, will it still work after we upgrade to MacOS Mojave? I still have not found any planetarium software that is as easy to use and has all the functionality of Voyager. What a tragedy that it is no longer updated.
I still have not figured out a way to import a batch of comet orbits into Voyager so that we can use them. The import of Soft00cmt.txt appears to work, but you can’t select any of the comets or display them. Asteroid import still works fine, fortunately.
P.S. Nice that you mention Russ Maag on your website. I remember him! He attended some of the same astronomy meetings I attended back in the ’70s and the early ’80s.
Voyager 4.5.7 appears to work fine with MacOS Mojave (though still having the aforementioned issues), but being it is a 32-bit application, it will cease to work starting with the next MacOS upgrade:
Is there (or will there be) a 32-bit emulator that will allow us to continue to run this software with future MacOS releases, since Carina Software has no intention of maintaining this software in the future?
I have great news for Voyager 4.5.7 lovers. Not as great as a minimally-updated version from Carina Software would be, but this will have to do. I have been holding off updating my Mac OS from Mojave 10.14.6 to Catalina 10.15 and now Big Sur 10.16 because Mojave is the last Mac OS that will run 32-bit applications, including Voyager 4.5.7.
I purchased Parallels (https://www.parallels.com) and created a virtual machine for Mac OS El Capitan 10.11, which is the last Mac OS where Voyager 4.5.7 worked 100% correctly (with the exception of automatic updates for comets and asteroid elements). In my case, I moved the virtual machine to a dedicated external hard drive, but you wouldn’t have to do that.
I have confirmed that both comet and asteroid elements sets can be successfully imported using the instructions in this article, and they work perfectly. After El Capitan, the Center : Find and Center… was not able to retrieve any asteroid with a number higher than 32765, but I’m happy to say that under the El Capitan virtual machine, you can find and center on any asteroid number or name.
I am an advanced observational astronomer, and I will reiterate that Voyager does everything I expect out of a desktop planetarium program, and it has a user interface that is more intuitive and easier to use than any other desktop planetarium program I have seen. Long live Voyager!
After using Voyager 4.5.7 under the Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan virtual machine for a few days, I’ve discovered that I cannot search for asteroid numbers higher than 32765. Searching for any asteroid number apparently only works during the same Voyager session where you import all the asteroids.
You can also created a virtual machine with VMWare Fusion with an older Mac OS (like David did above with Parallels) and run the virtual machine on a Mac with Catalina or Big Sur where the VM is an older MacOS. Voyager will run on the virtual machine. I also have Windows 7 virtual machine in VMWare Fusion that runs on all my Macs. I have the Windows version of Voyager running on it flawlessly on it. The nice thing about VMWare Fusion is I can have a VM open in a window on my Mac at the same time I have MacOS running! I have also loaded Sky Safari Pro on my Mac. It looks and works a lot like Voyager 4.5 with some minor differences. The two software programs did have one mutual programmer in their development.