Watch stars, planets and their satellites with this open source planetarium
If you want to get a sense of the stars without getting very cold, or dealing with light pollution in our cities, Stellarium lets you star gaze from the comfort of your computer.
Installation is easy though Stellarium does require an Open GL capable graphics card. Even most recent built-in graphics chips should be able to manage it.
There is nothing on the Stellarium screen to distract from the view of the night sky. The mouse can be used to move the view around, select items for more information and the wheel is used to zoom in and out. The arrow keys can also be used.
The other controls become visible when the mouse moves to the bottom left corner of the screen. It would be helpful if there was some pointer to this as we were left guessing the first time we ran it.
There are plenty of ways that Stellarium can be customised. The diffusing effect of the atmosphere can be disabled and the horizon view can be set a variety of different locations.
These include Garching in Germany, Guereins in France, Hurricane in the United States, Mars, the Moon, Saturn or even Seattle.
There is information about Starlore from many different cultures including Western, Egyptina, Chinese, Aztec and Norse. It is also possible to overlay the constellation art over the view.
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An excellent way of learning about the night sky and preparing to stargaze
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