Files and Directories
Stellarium has many data files containing such things as star catalogue data, nebula images, button icons, font files and configuration files. When Stellarium looks for a file, it looks in two places. First, it looks in the user directory for the account which is running Stellarium. If the file is not found there, Stellarium looks in the installation directory. Thus it is possible for Stellarium to be installed as an administrative user and yet have a writable configuration file for non-administrative users. Another benefit of this method is on multi-user systems: Stellarium can be installed by the administrator, and different users can maintain their own configuration and other files in their personal user accounts.
In addition to the main search path, Stellarium saves some files in other locations, for example screens shots and recorded scripts.
The locations of the user directory, installation directory, screenshot save directory and script save directory vary according to the operating system and installation options used. The following sections describe the locations for various operating systems.
- installation directory By default this is
C:\Program Files\Stellarium\, although this can be adjusted during the installation process.
- user directory This is the Stellarium sub-folder in the Application Data folder for the user account which is used to run Stellarium. Depending on the version of Windows and its configuration, this could be any of the following (each of these is tried, if it fails, the next in the list if tried).
%APPDATA%\Stellarium\ %USERPROFILE%\Stellarium\ %HOMEDRIVE%\%HOMEPATH%\Stellarium\ %HOME%\Stellarium\ Stellarium's installation directory
Thus, on a typical Windows XP system with user “Bob Dobbs”, the user directory will be:
C:\Documents and Settings\Bob Dobbs\Application Data\Stellarium\
Thus, on a typical Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems with user “Bob Dobbs”, the user directory will be:
Stellarium version 0.9.0 did use the
%APPDATA%\Stellarium folder. Thus if a
config.ini file exists in the
%USERPROFILE%\Stellarium\ directory, that will be used in preference to the
%APPDATA%\Stellarium\ directory. This is to prevent users of version 0.9.0 from losing their settings when they upgrade.
- screenshot save directory Screenshots will be saved to the Desktop, although this can be changed with a command line option (see section Command Line Options).
Mac OS X
- installation directory This is found inside the application bundle,
Stellarium.app. See the Inside Application Bundles for more information.
- user directory This is the
~/Library/Application Support/Stellariumon newest versions of Mac OS X) sub-directory of the users home directory.
- screenshot save directory Screenshots are saved to the users Desktop.
- installation directory This is in the
share/stellariumsub-directory of the installation prefix, i.e. usually
- user directory This is the
.stellariumsub-directory of users home directory, i.e.
- screenshot save directory Screenshots are saved to the users home directory.
Within the installation directory and user directory (defined in section Files and Directories), files are arranged in the following sub-directories.
- landscapes/ contains data files and textures used for Stellarium's various landscapes. Each landscape has it's own sub-directory. The name of this sub-directory is called the landscape ID, which is used to specify the default landscape in the main configuration file.
- skycultures/ contains constellations, common star names and constellation artwork for Stellarium's many sky cultures. Each culture has it's own sub-directory in the skycultures directory.
- nebulae/ contains data and image files for nebula textures. In future Stellarium will be able to support multiple sets of nebula images and switch between them at runtime. This feature is not implemented for version 0.9.1, although the directory structure is in place - each set of nebula textures has it's own sub-directory in the nebulae directory.
- stars/ contains Stellarium's star catalogues. In future Stellarium will be able to support multiple star catalogues and switch between them at runtime. This feature is not implemented for version 0.10.0, although the directory structure is in place - each star catalogue has it's own sub-directory in the stars directory.
- data/ contains miscellaneous data files including fonts, solar system data, city locations etc.
- textures/ contains miscellaneous texture files, such as the graphics for the toolbar buttons, planet texture maps etc.
If any file exists in both the installation directory and user directory, the version in the user directory will be used. Thus it is possible to override settings which are part of the main Stellarium installation by copying the relevant file to the user area and modifying it there.
It is also possible to add new landscapes by creating the relevant files and directories within the user directory, leaving the installation directory unchanged. In this manner different users on a multi-user system can customise Stellarium without affecting the other users.
The Main Configuration File
The main configuration file is read each time Stellarium starts up, and settings such as the observer's location and display preferences are taken from it. Ideally this mechanism should be totally transparent to the user - anything that is configurable should be configured “in” the program GUI. However, at time of writing Stellarium isn't quite complete in this respect, despite improvements in version 0.10.0. Some settings can only be changed by directly editing the configuration file. This section describes some of the settings a user may wish to modify in this way, and how to do it.
If the configuration file does not exist in the user directory when Stellarium is started (e.g. the first time the user starts the program), one will be created with default values for all settings (refer to section Files and Directories for the location of the user directory on your operating system). The name of the configuration file is
The configuration file is a regular text file, so all you need to edit it is a text editor like Notepad on Windows, Text Edit on the Mac, or nano/vi/gedit etc. on Linux.
The following sub-sections contain details on how to make commonly used modifications to the configuration file. A complete list of configuration file options and values may be found in the appendix, Configuration file.
Command Line Options
Stellarium's behaviour can be modified by providing parameters to the program when it is run, via the command line. See table [tab:Command-line-options] for a full list.
|--help or -h||[none]||Print a quick command line help message and exit.|
|--version or -v||[none]||Print the program name and version information, and exit.|
|--config-file or -c||config file name||Specify the configuration file name. The default value is |
The parameter can be a full path (which will be used verbatim) or a partial path.
Partial paths will be searched for inside the regular search paths unless they start with a “
For example, using the option
|--restore-defaults||[none]||If this option is specified Stellarium will start with the default configuration. Note: The old configuration file will be overwritten.|
|--user-dir||path||Specify the user data directory.|
|--screenshot-dir||path||Specify the directory to which screenshots will be saved.|
|--full-screen||yes or no||Over-rides the full screen setting in the config file.|
|--home-planet||planet||Specify observer planet (English name).|
|--altitude||altitude||Specify observer altitude in meters.|
|--longitude||longitude||Specify latitude, e.g. +53d58'16.65"|
|--latitude||latitude||Specify longitude, e.g. -1d4'27.48"|
|--list-landscapes||[none]||Print a list of available landscape IDs.|
|--landscape||landscape ID||Start using landscape whose ID matches the passed parameter (dir name for landscape).|
|--sky-date||date||The initial date in |
|--sky-time||time||The initial time in |
|--startup-script||script name||The name of a script to run after the program has started.|
|--fov||angle||The initial field of view in degrees.|
|--projection-type||ptype||The initial projection type (e.g. |
- To start Stellarium using the configuration file, configuration_one.ini situated in the user directory (use either of these):
stellarium --config-file=configuration_one.ini stellarium -c configuration_one.ini
- To list the available landscapes, and then to start using the landscape with the ID, “ocean”
stellarium --list-landscapes stellarium --landscape=ocean
Getting Extra Star Data
Stellarium is packaged with over 600 thousand stars in the normal program download, but much larger star catalogues may be downloaded using the tool which is in the Tools tab of the Configuration dialog.
Since version 0.10.2 of Stellarium includes the beginnings of a new scripting engine. The new scripting engine is still in development - there are missing features and probably a lot of bugs.
To run a script, open the Configuration dialog and go to the Scripts tab. A list of available scripts will be displayed in the list box on the left side. When a script name is selected by clicking on it, details about that script will be shown in the panel on the right side.
To run the selected script, click the run script button (looks like a play button found on a CD or DVD player).
To install a script, copy the script and any related files to
<User Data Directory>/scripts/
Until the new script engine complete, documentation will not be added to the user guide. In the mean time the following resources may be helpful:
- API Documentation. Scroll down to see the scripting overview with links to the scripting core object member functions.
- The scripts in the Subversion repository. Many of these do not get installed because they are not so useful proof-of-concept things, but there are quite a few in there which would be helpful for someone trying to learn about the new scripting engine.
- The stellarium-pubdevel mailing list.
Stellarium can simulate light pollution, which is controlled from the light pollution section of the Sky tab of the View window. Light pollution levels are set using an numerical value between 1 and 9 which corresponds to the Bortle Dark Sky Scale.
|Level||Title||Colour||Limiting magnitude (eye)||Description|
|1||Excellent dark sky site||black||7.6 – 8.0||Zodiacal light, gegenschein, zodiacal band visible; M33 direct vision naked-eye object; Scorpius and Sagittarius regions of the Milky Way cast obvious shadows on the ground; Airglow is readily visible; Jupiter and Venus affect dark adaptation; surroundings basically invisible.|
|2||Typical truly dark site||grey||7.1 – 7.5||Airglow weakly visible near horizon; M33 easily seen with naked eye; highly structured Summer Milky Way; distinctly yellowish zodiacal light bright enough to cast shadows at dusk and dawn; clouds only visible as dark holes; surroundings still only barely visible silhouetted against the sky; many Messier globular clusters still distinct naked-eye objects.|
|3||Rural sky||blue||6.6 – 7.0||Some light pollution evident at the horizon; clouds illuminated near horizon, dark overhead; Milky Way still appears complex; M15, M4, M5, M22 distinct naked-eye objects; M33 easily visible with averted vision; zodiacal light striking in spring and autumn, color still visible; nearer surroundings vaguely visible.|
|4||Rural/suburban transition||green/yellow||6.1 – 6.5||Light pollution domes visible in various directions over the horizon; zodiacal light is still visible, but not even halfway extending to the zenith at dusk or dawn; Milky Way above the horizon still impressive, but lacks most of the finer details; M33 a difficult averted vision object, only visible when higher than 55°; clouds illuminated in the directions of the light sources, but still dark overhead; surroundings clearly visible, even at a distance.|
|5||Suburban sky||orange||5.6 – 6.0||Only hints of zodiacal light are seen on the best nights in autumn and spring; Milky Way is very weak or invisible near the horizon and looks washed out overhead; light sources visible in most, if not all, directions; clouds are noticeably brighter than the sky.|
|6||Bright suburban sky||red||5.1 – 5.5||Zodiacal light is invisible; Milky Way only visible near the zenith; sky within 35° from the horizon glows grayish white; clouds anywhere in the sky appear fairly bright; surroundings easily visible; M33 is impossible to see without at least binoculars, M31 is modestly apparent to the unaided eye.|
|7||Suburban/urban transition||red||5.0 at best||Entire sky has a grayish-white hue; strong light sources evident in all directions; Milky Way invisible; M31 and M44 may be glimpsed with the naked eye, but are very indistinct; clouds are brightly lit; even in moderate-sized telescopes the brightest Messier objects are only ghosts of their true selves.|
|8||City sky||white||4.5 at best||Sky glows white or orange — you can easily read; M31 and M44 are barely glimpsed by an experienced observer on good nights; even with telescope, only bright Messier objects can be detected; stars forming familiar constellation patterns may be weak or completely invisible.|
|9||Inner City sky||white||4.0 at best||Sky is brilliantly lit with many stars forming constellations invisible and many weaker constellations invisible; aside from Pleiades, no Messier object is visible to the naked eye; only objects to provide fairly pleasant views are the Moon, the Planets and a few of the brightest star clusters.|
Adding Nebulae Images
Sky cultures are defined in the
skycultures/ directory which may be found in the installation directory and/or user directory. Inside is one sub-directory per sky culture, each of these containing settings and image files as described in table bottom. Section names should be unique within the
|constellation_names.eng.fab||This file contains a list of names for each constellation (from the three latter abbreviation of the constellation).|
|constellationsart.fab||This file contains the details of pictorial representations of the constellations. fields are:
|constellationship.fab||Describes the lines for the constellations. The fields are:
After this are pairs of HIP catalogue numbers which the lines are drawn between.
|constellations_boundaries.dat||This file provides data to drawing the boundaries of the constellations.|
|info.ini||Contains the name for this sky culture as it will appear in the configuration dialog's language Configuration -> Language.|
|star_names.fab||Contains a list of HIP catalogue numbers and common names for those stars.|
Adding Planetary Bodies
Planetary bodies include planets, dwarf planets, moons, comets and asteroids. The orbits and physical characteristics of these bodies are described in the
The file format follows .ini file conventions. Each section in the file represents the data for one planetary body. Each section has values as described in table.
|name||string||English name of body, case-sensitive|
|parent||string||English name of parent body (the body which this body orbits, e.g. in the case of our Moon, the parent body is Earth)|
|radius||float||Radius of body in kilometers|
|halo||boolean||If true, the body will have a halo displayed round it when it is bright enough|
|color||r,g,b||Colour of object (when rendered as a point). Each of r,g,b is a floating point number between 0 and 1.|
|tex_map||string||File name of a PNG or JPEG texture file to be applied to the object. Texture file is searched for in the |
|tex_halo||string||File name of a PNG or JPEG texture file to be used as the halo image if the halo option is set to true|
|tex_big_halo||string||File name of a PNG or JPEG texture file to be used as the “big halo” image|
|big_halo_size||float||The angular size of the big halo texture. Typical values range between 10 and 200.|
|coord_func||string||Select the method of calculating the orbit. Possible values are: ell_orbit, comet_orbit, <planet>_special (specific calculations for major bodies).|
|lighting||boolean||Turn on or off lighting effects|
|albedo||float||Specify the albedo of the body|
|atmosphere||boolean||Has body atmosphere?|
|rot_periode||float||Specify the rotational period of the body in hours|
|rot_obliquity||float||Angle between rotational axis and perpendicular to orbital plane in degrees|
|sidereal_period||float||Rotational period in days|
|orbit_Period||float||Time for one full orbit in days|
|orbit_SemiMajorAxis||float||Keplarian orbital element|
|orbit_Eccentricity||float||Keplarian orbital element|
|orbit_Inclination||float||Keplarian orbital element|
|orbit_AscendingNode||float||Keplarian orbital element|
|orbit_LongOfPericenter||float||Orbital element used in ell_orbit calculations|
|orbit_MeanLongitude||float||Orbital element used in ell_orbit calculations|
|ascending||float||Orbital element used in ell_orbit calculations|
|hidden||boolean||Display planet as seen from other bodies, or not|
|orbit_TimeAtPericenter||float||Object parameter used in comet_orbit calculations|
|orbit_PericenterDistance||float||Object parameter used in comet_orbit calculations|
|orbit_MeanAnomoly||float||Object parameter used in comet_orbit calculations|
|orbit_ArgOfPericenter||float||Object parameter used in comet_orbit calculations|
|orbit_Epoch||float||JD epoch for orbit elements|
|orbit_visualization_period||float||Orbital period (in Earth's days) of body for visualization their orbits|
|landscape||string||default landscape for this body|
|minor_planet_number||integer||MPC number of minor planet (used only for asteroids)|
|rings||boolean||Has body rings?|
|rings_outer_size||float||Outer size of rings|
|rings_inner_size||float||Inner size of rings|
|tex_ring||string||File name of a PNG or JPEG texture file to be used as the “rings” image|
|type||string||Type of body (using for asteroids and comets)|
Orbital calculations for the major planets is handled by sophisticated custom algorithms, and are accurate for a comparatively long time. For asteroids and comets the calculations are not as accurate, and the data in
ssystem.ini for these bodies should be updated periodically (every year or two).
At present this must be done manually by editing the ssystem.ini file.
An example entry might look like this:
[ceres] name = Ceres parent = Sun radius = 470 oblateness = 0.0 albedo = 0.113 halo = true color = 1.0,1.0,1.0 tex_halo = star16x16.png coord_func = comet_orbit #orbit_TimeAtPericenter = 2453194.01564059 #orbit_PericenterDistance = 2.54413510097202 orbit_Epoch = 2453800.5 orbit_MeanAnomaly = 129.98342 orbit_SemiMajorAxis = 2.7653949 orbit_Eccentricity = 0.0800102 orbit_ArgOfPericenter = 73.23162 orbit_AscendingNode = 80.40970 orbit_Inclination = 10.58687 lighting = true sidereal_period = 1680.15
Other Configuration Files
In addition to the files discussed in the previous sections, Stellarium uses various other data files. Many of these files may be edited easily to change Stellarium's behaviour.
|.../data/base_locations.txt||Each line is one record which describes a location which will appear on the map in the location dialogwindow!location.
A \# character at the beginning of the record indicates that the record is a comment, and will be ignored by Stellarium. Each record is TAB separated with the following fields:
|.../data/user_locations.txt||The same format as base_locations.txt. This file is added to when auser defines a new location, and is usually found in the user data directory area, rather than the installation area.|
|.../stars/*/name.fab||This file defines the Flamsteed designation for a star (see section Flamsteed Designation). Each line of the file contains one record of two fields, separated by the pipe character (|). The first field is the Hipparcos catalogue number of the star, the second is the Flamsteed designation, e.g:
|.../data/zone.tab||Time zone information.|
You can save what is on the screen to a file by pressing Control-S. Screenshots are taken in .png format, and have filenames something like this: stellarium-000.png, stellariuim-001.png (the number increments to prevent over-writing existing files).
Stellarium creates screenshots in different directories depending in your system type, see section Files and Directories.
Stellarium has been greatly expanded since version 0.10.2 with compiled static plug ins. By this method many add-ons for specific use can be added without modifying the program core. There are many plug ins now available that can be loaded at start up and be available within the program. as each plug in is loaded an icon is placed in the bottom menu bar. At present Version 0.12.3 there are 17 plug ins bundled with the release version of Stellarium. These include:
Telescope Control. Stellarium has a simple control mechanism for motorised telescope mounts. The user selects an object (i.e. by clicking on something - a planet, a star etc.) and presses the telescope go-to key (see section ) and the telescope will be guided to the object.
Multiple telescopes may be controlled simultaneously.
The control interface uses the Meade or the Celestron protocol and most telescopes use either one or the other so many different brands of telescopes can be controlled. There is a third party Telescope control system going under the name of ASCOM. They provide an interface to stellarium and then translate the control into many other forms
Multiple telescopes may be controlled simultaneously.
WARNING: Stellarium will not prevent your telescope from being pointed at the Sun. It is up to you to ensure proper filtering and safety measures are applied!
AngleMeasure. Measures the angle and distance between objects on the visible screen
When this plug in is active you can place the cursor on any object and drag the mouse to another object. The program will calculate the angular distance between the objects
CompassMarks. places a scale of degrees around the horizon
When active this places a 360 degree scale around the horizon.
Exoplanets. A list of stars with planets around that can be displayed from an editable data base - exoplanets.json
When active this plug in reads the associated exoplanets.json file and places on the item with a name.
Oculars. This places a window on the screen that corresponds to the view through a telescope or on a camera. It reads from an editable data base.
When this plug in is active a window will appear around the selected object depicting what would be seen by the viewing object. On the top right hand side of the screen a menu will appear that can be used to select the viewing device eg. Camera, Eyepiece. This menu is filled with items from the ocular.ini file in the modules\oculars folder. his file can be edited from the Plugins menu screen or by a text editor.
Pulsars. A list of Pulsars that can be displayed from an editable data base.
When active this plug in reads the associated pulsars.json file and places in blue around the pulsar with a name
Quasars. A list of Quasars that can be displayed from an editable data base
When active this plug in reads the associated pulsars.json file and places in red around the pulsar with a name
RendererStatistics.A list of statistics from the operation of the program
When activated displays statistics about the renderer
Satellites. This displays a number of earth orbiting satellies. automatically updated every 72 hours from the internet.
This plug in reads information on a selected range of near earth orbiting satellites from a file satellites.json that is updated every 72 hours and displays with a name. The file is editable with a text editor to change the colour and visibility when required.
Observability. This shows times and availabilty of objects you may wish to see
SolarSystemEditor. This can be used to find and include orbital data on Solar System objects and added to the ssystem.ini file
SuperNova. A list of Super Novas that can be displayed from an editable data base.
When Historical SuperNova is active follow the instructions from the plugin screen to display the supernova. This may require resetting the date to the listed date.
TextUserInterface (TUI). A way to change many parameters from the Stellarium Program
The text user interface is basically for the use in planetariums. When the plug in is loaded it can be opened and closed with “m”. This will pace the entry point on the lower left of the screen which may be obscured by the landscape. To use it you scroll through the options with the arrow keys and press enter when the desired function is listed.
TimeZoneConfiguration. Used to manipulate the time zone of the display.
- ↑ The installation directory was referred to as the config root directory in previous versions of this guide
- ↑ Windows Vista users who do not run Stellarium with administrator priviliges should adjust the shortcut in the start menu to specify a different directory for screenshots as the Desktop directory is not writable for normal progams. The next release of Stellarium will include a GUI option to specify the screenshot directory.
- ↑ It is possible to specify a different name for the main configuration file using the
--config-filecommand line option. See section Command Line Options for details.
- ↑ Not all files in the
.../datadirectory are listed here - only the ones which the advanced user is most likely to want to modify.