Configuring Stellarium to the Right Time and Location
Configuring Stellarium to the Right Time and Location
Subject Descriptors: How do I see stars on stellarium from my city? How do I change the settings of stellarium? Stellarium, How do I change the date and time in stellarium? configuration
Application: Stellarium 0.10.2, Windows xp
Task Description: How do I configure Stellarium so it will display the right time and location?
Tutorial Date: June 3, 2009, By Sarah Zabriskie
Why do I Have to Configure Stellarium?
When Stellarium is downloaded onto your computer, it is not connected to the internet anymore, so it can't automatically register itself to your time and location. When you install Stellarium, you have to configure the program to your location and time in order to see the same sky appear on the screen as appears above you. Most of Stellarium’s configuration is done using the Configuration Window and the View Window. To open the Configuration Window, click the button on the Left Side Toolbar, as shown above, or press F2. To open the View Window click the button on the Left Side Toolbar, as shown above, or press F4.
Setting the Date and Time
The current date and time is displayed at the bottom of the screen. If the date and time displayed is incorrect, you may change it. Open the Left Side Toolbar and click on the Date/Time Window as shown above. A small window will appear which will allow you to change the values for the year, month, day, hour, minutes and seconds by typing new values, by clicking the up and down arrows above and below the values, or by using the mouse wheel.
Setting Your Location
The positions of the stars in the sky are dependent on your location on Earth (or other planet) as well as the time and date. For Stellarium to show accurately what is (or will be/was) in the sky, you must tell it where you are. You only need to do this once - Stellarium can save your location so you won’t need to set it again until your location changes. To set your location, click on the Location Window button, as shown above, or press F6. There are a few ways you can set your location:
1. Just click on the area where you are located on the map.
2. Search for a city where you live using the search edit box at the top right of the window, and select the right city from the list.
3. Enter a new location using the longitude, latitude and other data.
Once you’re happy that the location is set correctly, click on the “use as default” check box, this will save your location so you won't need to set it again unless you move. Then close the location window.
The Configuration Window
The Configuration Window contains general program settings, and many other settings which do not concern specific display options. To display the Configuration Window, click on the button shown above, or select F2. A small window will appear. At the top of this window you will see several tabs you can select. The Main tab is selected in the diagram above, and the options of this tab are explained below.
- Program Language allows you to select the language you would like the program to use.
- Selected Object Information allows you to specify how much information is shown about selected sky objects
- Default Options allows you to save the current program configuration.
The Navigation Tab
The Navigation Tab allows for enabling/disabling of keyboard shortcuts for panning and zooming the main view, and also allows you to specify which simulation time should be used when the program starts:
- When System date and time is selected, Stellarium will start with the simulation time as the operating system clock.
- When System date at is selected, Stellarium will start with the same date as the operating system clock, but the time will be fixed at the specified value. This is a useful setting for those people who use Stellarium during the day to plan observing sessions for the upcoming evening.
- When Other is selected, a fixed time can be chosen which will be used every time Stellarium starts.
- Show flip buttons When this option is enabled, two buttons will be added to the Main Toolbar, which allows the main view to be mirrored in the vertical and horizontal directions. This is useful when observing through telescopes which may cause the image to be mirrored.
The Tools Tab
The Tools Tab of the configuration window contains miscellaneous utility features:
Spheric mirror distortion: This option pre-warps the main view such that it may be projected onto a spherical mirror using a projector. The resulting image will be reflected up from the spherical mirror in such a way that it may be shone onto a small planetarium dome, making a cheap planetarium projection system.
Disc viewport: This option makes the main view produce the effect of a telescope eyepiece. It is also useful when projecting Stellarium’s output with a fish-eye lens planetarium projector.
Gravity labels: This option makes labels of objects in the main view align with the nearest horizon. This means that labels projected onto a dome are always aligned properly.
Select Single Constellation: This option allows you to view one constellation in the sky at a time. Select the box and then click on one of the stars within one of the constellations. All the other constellations will disappear.
Auto zoom out returns to initial field of view: When enabled, this option changes the behavior of the zoom out key (\) so that it resets the initial direction of view in addition to the field of view.
Screenshot Directory: This option allows you to select the folder you would like to save your screenshots in. Click on the folder beside this option. A window will appear which will allow you to browse through your folders.
Star Catalog Updates: This option allows you to download more stars into the Stellarium database.
The Scripts Tab
The Scripts Tab has several short video demonstrations about different phenomena that happen in the sky. You can browse through and select the script you would like to watch, and then press the play button at the bottom of the window.
The View Settings Window
The View Settings Window controls many display features of Stellarium which are not available via the Main Toolbar. You can display the View Settings Window by selecting the icon shown above, or by hitting F4 on the keyboard. This window has several tabs at the top which will allow you to do different things when each one is selected. The diagram above is displaying the Sky Tab, and the options are described below.
The Sky Tab of the View Settings Window contains settings for changing the general appearance of the main sky view. Some options are described below:
- Absolute scale is the size of stars as rendered by Stellarium. If you increase this value, all stars will appear larger than before.
- Relative scale determines the difference in size of bright stars compared to faint stars. Values higher than 1.00 will make the brightest stars appear much larger than they do in the sky. This is useful for creating star charts, or when learning the basic constellations.
- Twinkle controls how much the stars twinkle.
- Dynamic eye adaptation When enabled this feature reduces the brightness of faint objects when a bright object is in the field of view. This simulates how the eye can be dazzled by a bright object such as the moon, making it harder to see faint stars and galaxies.
- Light pollution is common in urban and suburban areas, the sky is brightened by terrestrial light pollution reflected in the atmosphere. Stellarium simulates light pollution and is calibrated to the Bortle Dark Sky Scale where 1 means a good dark sky, and 9 is a very badly light-polluted sky.
- Planets and satellites this group of options lets you turn on and off various features related to the planets. Simulation of light speed will give more precise positions for planetary bodies which move rapidly against background stars (e.g. the moons of Jupiter). The Scale Moon option will increase the apparent size of the moon in the sky, which can be nice for wide field of view shots.
- Labels and markers you can independently change the amount of labels displayed for planets, stars and nebulae. The further to the right the sliders are set, the more labels you will see. Note that more labels will also appear as you zoom in.
- Shooting stars Stellarium has a simple meteor simulation option. This setting controls how many shooting stars will be shown. Note that shooting stars are only visible when the time rate is 1, and might not be visible at some times of day. Meteor showers are not currently simulated.
The Markings Tab
The Markings Tab of the View window controls the following features:
Celestial sphere this group of options makes it possible to plot various grids and lines in the main view.
Constellations these controls let you turn on and off constellation lines, names, art and boundaries, and control the brightness of the constellation artwork.
Projection Selecting items in this list changes the projection method which Stellarium uses to draw the sky. Options are:
- cylinder The full name of this projection mode is cylindrical equidistant projection. The maximum field of view in this mode is 233 degrees.
- equal area The full name of this projection method is, Lambert azimuthal equal area projection. The maximum field of view is 360 degrees.
- fisheye Stellarium draws the sky using azimuthal equidistant projection. In fisheye projection, straight lines become curves when they appear a large angular
distance from the center of the field of view (like the distortions seen with very wide angle camera lenses). This is more pronounced as the user zooms out. The maximum field of view in this mode is 180 degrees
- Hammer-Aitoff The Hammer projection is an equal-areamap projection, described by Ernst Hammer in 1892 and directly inspired by the Aitoff projection. The maximum field of view in this mode is 360 degrees.
- mercator Mercator projection preserves the angles between objects, and the scale around an object the same in all directions. The maximum field of view in this mode is 233 degrees.
- orthographic Orthographic projection is related to perspective projection, but the point of perspective is set to an infinite distance. The maximum field of view is 180 degrees.
- perspective Perspective projection keeps the horizon a straight line. The maximum field of view is 150 degrees. The mathematical name for this projection method is gnomonic projection.
- stereographic This mode is similar to fish-eye projection mode. The maximum field of view in this mode is 235 degrees.
The Landscape Tab
The Landscape Tab of the View Window controls the landscape graphics (ground). To change the landscape graphics, select a landscape from the list on the left side of the window. A description of the landscape will be shown on the right. Note that while landscape can include information about where the landscape graphics were taken (planet, longitude, latitude and altitude), this location does not have to be the same as the location selected in the Location window, although you can set up Stellarium such that selection of a new landscape will alter the location for you. The controls at the bottom right of the window operate as follows:
- Show ground This turns on and off landscape rendering (same as the button in the main tool-bar).
- Show fog This turns on and off rendering of a band of fog/haze along the horizon.
- Use associated planet and position When enabled, selecting a new landscape will automatically update the observer location.
- Use this landscape as default Selecting this option will save the landscape into the program configuration file so that the current landscape will be the one used when Stellarium starts.
The Starlore Tab
The Starlore Tab of the View Window controls which culture’s constellations and bright star names will be used in the main display. Some cultures have constellation art (Western and Inuit), and the rest do not.