Stellarium Tutorials: The Basics

Learn how to set up and use the free planetarium software Stellarium. With powerful functions and a user-friendly interface, Stellarium is not hard to use. But setting up the proper location, and adjusting the controls to match it's display to your view of the night sky can greatly enhance your user experience. Doing so can also vastly speed up how quickly you learn the stars and constellation you can see outside at night. 

Setting your location

Taking the time to accurately set your location can save you hours of frustration! Take a few minutes to learn how to do this important component of setting up Stellarium, so that the display in the software will match your night sky every time you use this program. 

Getting Started

Learning how to move the view in Stellarium left, right, up, down as well as zoom in and out are basic functions of Stellarium. But did you know there is more than one way to do this? That can be helpful if you are using Stellarium on a laptop without a mouse that has a wheel on it. Also learn how to start and stop time, advance forward in time or reverse time, and how to select / deselect objects. 

Displaying and selection constellations

Stellarium offers quite a few options for displaying various constellation shapes in the sky. Though many people use the IAU-standardized Greek constellation names and shapes, Stellarium can display many other options from other world cultures such as Arabic, Chinese, Egyptian, Lakota, and more. In addition, Stellarium can display the constellation lines, labels, and even artwork. This tutorial also shows how to select individual constellations within Stellarium. 

Sky and Viewing Options Window: Sky Tab

Setting up Stellarium to more accurately represent the sky you see - or what options you'd like to display - is one of the most useful functions of Stellarium. This is most-often done from the "Sky and Viewing Options Window." This video goes over the functions available in the "Sky" tab of this window. This includes absolute and relative star size, twinkle, atmospheric and light pollution effects, meteor display rate, Milky Way brightness, planet and satellite display, Moon scale function, labels/markers for stars, planets and deep sky objects, along with options to limit or expand the magnitude of stars and deep sky objects.