This Open Source software is a great tool for showing people an accurate representation of the night time sky whether it is for information, education or even entertainment. It is available on most platforms and is easy to use. It comes with a wealth of data and only needs an occasion nudge to pick up the latest orbits of the International Space Station and other new things in the sky.
This planetarium on your PC allows you to see how the sky would look from different locations around the World and at different times and dates. You can track objects like asteroids, comets and planets as they move through the sky and use it to predict when objects will be close to each other in the sky.
The software allows you to change the Landscape you appear to be standing in. Simply click on “Sky and Viewing Options window” on the left side icon menu or press F4, and then click the Landscape tab. The software comes with some nice fields in Europe, but if you wanted something a little closer to home, you can click on “Add or remore landscapes…” and add your own that you’ve downloaded. Below are a selection of zip files for various Landscapes around Bath for you to download and install if you wanted to.
There are several reasons to use your our backdrop or landscape in Stellarium. By using a local view, you get more of a feel of where objects are in the sky and makes it more familiar and accessible. If you actually plan to observe from one of these locations, it’ll allow you to orientate yourself with the night sky and remember instructions such as “the star just above Beckford’s Tower”. You can go even further and follow online tutorials to make your own Landscape of your backgarden so you can accurately work out when Mars rises above your neighbours shed!
If you want to build your own Landscapes, you might like to use these templates which demonstrate a single panel, low resolution and a multi-panel, high resolution options for creating your own. Download the Zip and add into Stellarium as any other Landscape zip and see how they are constructed.