Stellarium – Free Planetarium Software for Your Computer

Mar 9, 2013

Are you an astronomy enthusiast? Looking for a virtual sky application to use as an observational aid? Are you looking for a free planetarium software? If yes, I suggest you download and try Stellarium once. Stellarium is a free application, which presents photo-realistic, 3D simulation of night sky. This virtual planetarium application comes packed with features and renders realistic skies in real time. It means, you could see and explore the actual night sky right on your computer. Stellarium is open source and works on Windows, Linux, BSD and Mac OS X. Read on to find out more, and the official download link.

Stellarium Image

How it works?

Stellarium works by calculating the positions of the Sun and Moon, planets and stars, and then by rendering how the sky would appear to an observer. For rendering it uses OpenGL. The sky map depends on the location and the time. So, if you want to see what you can see with your eyes, binoculars or a small telescope, you must specify correct location, date and time. After proper setup, Stellarium will present the sky that could be seen from your location. The position of stars, planets, constellations, nebulae and other stellar objects will be presented in realtime. The landscape can be easily changed. You can also download more landscapes from the official site. Stellarium can also provide realistic simulation of events like sunrise, sunset, solar eclipse, lunar eclipse etc.

Stellarium Mars View

Features and Options:

In my opinion, Stellarium is a powerful virtual planetarium software. It comes packed with tons of features and options. The default catalogue of Stellarium contains more than 600,000 stars. But you can expand the coverage of your desktop planetarium by using downloadable catalogues, which contains more than 210 million stars. Stellarium has illustrations of all 88 modern constellations, the Milky Way and almost all Messier objects. The functionality of this freeware application can be easily extended by using suitable plugins. Default installation comes packed with few useful plugins such as ocular simulation, telescope control, Solar System editor and artificial satellites plug-in.

Some features of Stellarium:

  • Realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset.
  • Realistic Milky Way view.
  • Full Messier catalogue.
  • Catalogue of over 600,000 stars and additional catalogues with more than 210 million stars.
  • Ability to add own landscapes, constellation images, deep sky objects, scripts etc.
  • Asterisms and illustrations of the constellations.
  • Constellations for twelve different cultures.
  • Star twinkling and shooting stars.
  • Equatorial and azimuthal grids presentation.
  • Fish eye projection for planetarium domes.
  • Plugin support for extending capabilities.
  • Powerful zoom feature with extensive keyboard controls.

Use of Stellarium:

Stellarium can be used as an educational tool for teaching in schools, as an observational aid for amateur astronomers, as a sky map creator tool or as a fun application to watch stars & planets. But Stellarium is a powerful product and is capable of delivering more! That’s why it is being used in projectors of some real planetariums. Download Stellarium today.

Quick Info on Stellarium:

  • Programming languages: C, C++
  • Operating Systems: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
  • Price: $ 0.00 (FREE)
  • License: GNU General Public License (GPL)
  • Download Link:

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