Be thankful for computerized star charts

The history of celestial cartography proves that we stand on the shoulders of giants.  Planetarium software today owes a great debt to the work that came before.  Our computers can display a wealth of graphical information using very large databases created over the decades (actually, centuries) by professional astronomers.  Astrometry is the oldest branch of astronomy largely because of its role in the development of navigation.  Some experienced astronomers will recall flipping through paper star atlases with flashlights in the dark beside our telescopes, trying to find dim celestial objects which were equally faint on the chart pages.  Having a laptop PC, iPad, or cell phone display colorful, zoom-able, searchable star charts with million object catalogs is one of the many wonders of the modern era that we absolutely cannot live without!