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Space 101: Using Stellarium For Facinating Space Exploration

Space Stellarium Technology Software Astronomy

If you are interested in astronomy and just like to watch the stars at night and wonder what is the name of the star anywhere in the world, you have to check out the open-source software, Stellarium.

About Stellarium

Stellarium is a free and open-source planetarium software that shows a realistic 3D sky in real-time, as seen from anywhere on Earth. It was first released in 2001 by Fabien Chéreau and has since been developed by a team of volunteers. It has won several awards, such as the gold award in the Education category of the Les Trophées du Libre free software competition in 2006.

It has also been used by professional astronomers and educators, such as the MeerKAT project in South Africa and the China-VO virtual observatory. Stellarium can be projected onto domes using fisheye or spherical mirror distortion, and it supports various plugins and customizations.

Stellarium Mobile is a fork of Stellarium that targets mobile devices running Android, iOS, and Symbian. Stellarium is licensed under the GNU GPLv2 and can be downloaded from

How to Use Stellarium

Here are some basic steps to get started with the application:

  1. Download and install the program from the official website.
  2. Launch the application and select your location and date from the menu bar at the bottom of the screen. You can also use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out of the sky view.
  3. Use the arrow keys or the mouse to move around the sky. You can also click on any object to get more information about it in the sidebar.
  4. To change the settings, such as the sky culture, landscape, projection, or grid, click on the icons at the bottom left corner of the screen. You can also access more options from the configuration window (F2) or the search window (F3).
  5. To see the sky at different times, use the time controls at the bottom right corner of the screen. You can speed up, slow down, pause, or reverse the time flow.
  6. To take screenshots, press Ctrl+S. To record videos, press Ctrl+V. To save your current view as a bookmark, press Ctrl+B.
  7.  To learn more about the application, visit the user guide at Stellarium.

Stellarium also has some advanced features that you can explore, such as:

  • Scripting: You can create and run custom scripts to automate tasks or create animations using its scripting engine. To access the script console, press F12.
  • Plugins: You can extend Stellarium’s functionality by installing plugins that add new features or data. To manage plugins, go to the Configuration window > Plugins tab.
  • Remote control: You can control Stellarium remotely from another device using a web browser or an app. To enable remote control, go to Configuration window > Remote Control tab.
  • Telescope control: You can connect Stellarium to a real telescope and control it from your computer. To set up telescope control, go to Configuration window > Telescope Control tab.

Other Similar Software

If you are looking for software similar to Stellarium, you have many options to choose from. Stellarium is a free open-source planetarium for your computer that shows a realistic sky in 3D, but it has some limitations and drawbacks. Some of the best alternatives to Stellarium are:

  • Celestia: A free open-source application for real-time 3D visualization of space, with a detailed model of the solar system, over 100,000 stars, more than 10,000 galaxies, and an extension mechanism for adding more objects. Celestia is portable and can be used from a USB stick or similar with no prior installation.
  • Sky Map: A free open-source app for Android that turns your mobile phone into a window on the night sky. Sky Map makes use of augmented reality to interact with one or more of its services.
  • Space Engine: A paid proprietary software for Windows that is a real-time 3D space simulator, procedural universe generator and visualiser. It lets you explore the universe in three dimensions, starting from planet Earth to the most distant galaxies.
  • KStars: A free open-source desktop planetarium for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. It provides an accurate graphical simulation of the night sky, from any location on Earth, at any date and time. KStars supports over 100 million stars, 13,000 deep-sky objects, all 8 planets, the Sun and Moon, comets, asteroids, satellites and more.
  • Gaia Sky: A free open-source real-time 3D astronomy visualization software that runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It allows you to explore our universe in three dimensions as seen by ESA’s Gaia satellite. Gaia Sky features high-quality graphics, realistic physics, scripting capabilities and VR support.

These are some of the most popular and well-known software similar to Stellarium that you can try out for yourself. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, so you may want to compare them and see which one suits your needs and preferences best.

Final Say

Stellarium has a positive impact on our understanding of astronomy, as it helps us to learn about the night sky, visualize the movements and positions of astronomical bodies, and appreciate the beauty and diversity of the cosmos. Stellarium also supports scientific research and education, as it provides accurate and up-to-date data on celestial phenomena, such as eclipses, transits, meteor showers, and comets.

Stellarium can be used by anyone interested in astronomy, from beginners to professionals, and from students to teachers. Stellarium is a powerful and accessible tool that enhances our knowledge and curiosity about the universe we live in.

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