So, lets start Stellarium. After fresh installation, Stellarium sets the location to Paris, France, but you can change the location to be anywhere on earth or even on planets. We will explain different ways to set the location where we discuss Location Setting.
If we start Stellarium, when it's night, we will get a night view like this:
and if we start Stellarium when it's day time we will get a view like this:
Time can be changed to be now, in the past or in the future. Details are explained in the Time/Date Setting section.
To move around the sky, you can use the arrow keys to move right or left, up or down. You can also hold the left mouse button and pan your view as desired.
To zoom in or out use the Page Up and Page Down keys or use the mouse wheel. To have a slower zooming speed use Shift+Page Up and Shift+Page Down.
To select a star or any sky object click with the left mouse button. On the upper left corner, the information relevant to the selected object will be shown. To unselect, click with the right mouse button anywhere and the selection mark along with the information will be off the display.
Use the forward slash ( / ) to zoom in to the selected object. To zoom out use the backward slash ( \ ).
At the bottom, there is a bar showing the status of the view. It contains the location, the field of view, the display refresh rate in Frames Per Second, the date and time. The date and time display format can be changed through the Time Zone plugin.
When you move the mouse to the lower edge of Stellarium window, A horizontal bar will be revealed. This bar has buttons that controls how the view will be displayed. The buttons are either lighted or dimmed (on or off). Lighted buttons means that their function is active.
When the mouse pointer goes over any button, it will be emphasized with a square and a description of its function will be shown along with the equivalent shortcut key over the horizontal bar.
The two small triangles at the lower left corner serve to fix the horizontal and vertical bars (cancel auto hide) when you press them.
Now we will explain the function of each button.
This button will close Stellarium.
With each click of this button, time passing rate will increase. You will see stars, the moon, the sun and other objects move faster. Pressing L on the keyboard has the same effect.
The date and time on the status bar will change faster.
If you change the time to be in the future or in the past, you can return to current time using this button. Current time is according to your computer system clock. The equivalent key is 8.
If you have increased or decreased time rate, you can return to normal time rate using this button. The equivalent key is K. Note that if the time rate is already normal, indicated by this button being on (lighted) , clicking it will pause the time and the button will change to . Click again to return to normal time rate.
With each click of this button, time passing rate will decrease. You will see stars, the moon, the sun and other objects move slower, stopped or faster in a backward motion.
If time rate is normal, clicking this button once will stop time. The date and time on the status bar will stop.
If time is stopped, clicking this button will cause time to go in the past. Additional clicks will cause the time rate to increase but in a backward manner. The date and time on the status bar will go backward faster.
If time rate is fast forward, clicking this button will slow it down. The date and time on the status bar will go slower.
Pressing J on the keyboard has the same effect.
The next set of buttons are for plugin activation. Plugins are additional features, where you have the choice of including or excluding them from Stellarium. If the plugin add features to sky display and information, a button for it will appear in the horizontal bar. You can see the list of the plugins in the Configuration window, Plugin tab. Plugins are explained in detail in the Plugins section.
Two plugin buttons are included with the horizontal bar by default. The Satellites and the Ocular plugin.
Click this button to display the artificial satellites in the view.
Click this button to be able to use the Oculars plugin, which enables you to see the sky as if you're looking through a telescope eyepiece.
Night mode is useful when Stellarium is used outdoors to see real night sky. If the screen is bright, the eyes will need some time to adapt to the dark sky. Using this mode turns the screen colors into red which has minimal effect on eye adaptation at night.
When you click on a star or any other sky object, it will be selected and its information will be shown on the upper left corner of the view. If you want to center this object, click this button. The button will turn to be lighted, and it will stay on until the view is panned or the object is deselected.
The default mode is Azimuthal mount with the button off. If it's on then the mode has been changed to equatorial. Click the on button to return to Azimuthal mount mode and have the earth fixed and sky objects move (as seen in real life). You will use this mode more often.
Click the off button to have your view with fixed equatorial coordinates. Using this mode, the sky view will be fixed and the earth will rotate.
This mode is useful when you want to compare a printed sky chart with what you see in the screen. Sky charts use equatorial coordinates and will have celestial north at the top. International Astronomical Union IAU provides online a full set of sky charts for the 88 constellations.
Also this mode is useful when you use Stellarium screen shots to produce your customized star charts.
A sample sky map using equatorial mount mode with Hammer-Aitoff projection option.
If you want to hide labels of planets, moon and the sun click this button. To show them again click .
This button will make stars visible in day time canceling atmospheric effect.
Atmosphere off Atmosphere on
This toggle button will show and hide the Cardinal points indicators (N, E, S and W) for north, east, south and west.
This toggle button will show a ground landscape. If you want to see the sky below the horizon, turn this button off.
Ground on Ground off, Saturn is below horizon.
Use this button or the equivqlent key to show or hide the Azimuthal grid.
Use this button or the equivqlent key to show or hide the Equatorial grid.
Equatorial coordinate system.
Use this button or the equivqlent key to show or hide the constellation figures.
Use this button or the equivqlent key to show or hide the constellation names.
Use this button or the equivqlent key to show or hide the constellation lines.