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Astronomy with an online telescope
Astronomy with an online telescope

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1 Finding your way around the sky using Stellarium software

Stellarium is an extremely useful software package that contains information about thousands of stars together with other celestial objects such as planets, galaxies, the Sun and the Moon, and uses this information to display a realistic representation of the night sky as seen from any point on Earth at any specified date and time. Packages like Stellarium, which produce a display on your computer screen similar to that in a planetarium dome, are often referred to as planetarium software.

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Figure 2 The Stellarium main screen, showing the two menu bars which can be made to appear by moving the cursor to the left side or bottom edge of the screen at the lower left corner. Credit: https://stellarium.org

Stellarium is produced by an independent team of developers and is free to install on most types of desktop and laptop computers. Versions are available for most popular operating systems without cost. There are also mobile versions for use on smartphones and other mobile devices, although there is a small charge for these.

In keeping with good practice in the software industry, Stellarium is updated frequently. The instructions in this course are based on Version 0.18.0. If you are using a later version, you should be aware that some of the controls and details may have changed – you can refer to the user guide supplied with Stellarium for details.