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Note: this FAQ is a short list of answers to common problems.

Most of the content of the old FAQ (about using Stellarium, landscapes, customization, astronomy...) is now available and up to date in the user's guide. This page will only list the bare minimum to get you up and running.


General questions

What is Stellarium?

Stellarium is an open source desktop planetarium for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX. It renders the skies in realtime using OpenGL, which means the skies will look exactly like what you see with your eyes, binoculars, or a small telescope. Stellarium is very simple to use, which is one of its biggest advantages: it can easily be used by beginners. The Stellarium project was started by Fabien Chéreau during the summer of 2001 and uses Sourceforge intensively. Access the Sourceforge project page here.

Is Stellarium free?

Yes! Stellarium is open source software. Anyone has the right to download and use the software for free, to distribute it without modifying to other people, or modify the source code, all of this under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Where can I download Stellarium?

Via the download page. Stellarium is hosted on Sourceforge servers. After clicking on the right link of the download page, you will be taken to a list of Sourceforge servers, each with their location. Click on the file icon of the one geographically closest to you, it ensures a speedy download.

Where can I provide feedback?

Your ideas and comments are invaluable to Stellarium. Have a look at the homepage to see where you can get personal support, ask for new features, report bugs and even submit your own patches.

Installing Stellarium

What are Stellarium's system requirements?

A graphics card capable of rendering OpenGL. A Riva TNT2, released in 1999 or 2000, should do. Stellarium is also fairly processor intensive, so you will get higher framerates with faster processors. Any reasonably recent computer should be able to run Stellarium. Furthermore your computer should be running a Linux, Windows or MacOSX operating system.

To give you an idea of what's possible, we've had success with these older computers:

  • Pentium III 800Mhz, 128MB RAM, Intel on board graphics (under Windows XP).
  • AMD K6 400 Mhz, 256MB RAM, Nvidia Gforce2 AGP, DirectX 9.0 (Windows XP)
  • Mac PPC's back to about 667MHz, running at least OSX 10.3.9, any Mac Intel

How do I install Stellarium?

For Windows users, run the downloaded file "setup.exe" and follow the instructions. For Linux users, the easiest is to find a pre-compiled package for your distribution. But it is also possible to compile the program yourself: detailed compilation instructions for Linux, Posix, Cygwin and MacOSX are available in the "INSTALL" file. Mac OSX users should download the dmg file, double click on it to open, the application is contained inside, drag the application to your Applications folder.

How do I uninstall Stellarium?

For Windows users, uninstall Stellarium using the "Add or Remove Programs" applet in the Windows control panel. For Linux users, use your packet manager if you installed a pre-compiled version. If you compiled yourself you can uninstall by typing "make uninstall" in the compilation directory.

Using Stellarium

How do I start using Stellarium?

  • Set your location first! The default location is Paris, France. You can click on your location on the map in the configuration window, or enter coordinates manually. Don't forget to save the changes. Do that by clicking "set as default". From now on, the sky will look exactly as it looks where you live when you run Stellarium. If you take Stellarium along on a trip with a laptop, you will need to adjust your location of course.</li>
  • Use the mouse or arrow keys to look around.</li>
  • Use the page up and page down keys to zoom in and out.</li>
  • Use the left mouse button to select an object, the right button to deselect the object and middle mouse button or spacebar to center on the selected object.</li>
  • Zooming on nebulas or planets is very interesting...</li>
  • J slows down or reverses speed, L increases time speed, and K makes time return to normal speed.</li>
  • Press the H key for help.

    How do I change the screen resolution to one that isn't specified in the menu?

    You are running Stellarium on one of those fancy widescreen laptops, and there is no option specifying your screen resolution in the menu. In that case, just open the config.ini file with a text editor, and find the screen_w and screen_h values. Set the numbers to the desired dimensions, save the file and restart Stellarium: enjoy the view!

    Is there a user's guide to Stellarium?

    Thanks to Matthew Gates and various other contributors, there is. Find out everything you want to know about Stellarium, and the astronomic principles you see demonstrated in the program. Essential reading. Download the user's guide to Stellarium (pdf).


    How do I use other constellation art in Stellarium?

    Want to use other drawings than the ones included in Stellarium, like your own drawings, or antique drawings from the Uranographia?

    You will need to change the constellation textures, and possibly adjust their coordinates in the constellationsart.fab file. If they're not burdened by restrictive copyrights, you can share the set you made with the rest of the community.

    Is it possible to show more stars?

    Stellarium uses the Hipparcos catalog, which contains over 120000 stars. It is currently not possible to use other star catalogs. Additional stars allowed in Stellarium may be found at the sourceforge download site: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=48857&package_id=233730

    Is Stellarium available in my language?

    Starting from version 0.8.0, Stellarium can be tailored to show your language. Settings are in the preferences window, or in the config.ini file. It is possible that the translation isn't complete yet, so we would be grateful if the talented translators among the Stellarium users would contribute to the translations. Info about the process is on the translation page.


    I can't install Stellarium.

    Read the installation instructions contained in the "INSTALL" file, which comes with Stellarium.

    Stellarium installs, but does not run.

    0.9.0 / OSX If you have upgraded from an older version of Stellarium, and your old config.ini file was set so that Stellarium started in full screen mode, 0.9.0 will fail to start. Just edit your config.ini file and edit the line with the fullscreen setting so the value is false.

    For other problems, we can offer some accounts of what people experienced in the past. Maybe a file necessary for Stellarium was corrupted or badly formatted in some way. Try reinstalling, don't forget to backup any Stellarium files you might have customized.

    Stellarium reports basic actions on standard output and standard error. This output can be read in the cmd window on Windows, or can be seen by starting Stellarium from a terminal in Linux and OS X. Have a read of this output and see if there is any helpful information. If you can't fix your problem, post a support request, and include this output.

    Message on console, "locale::facet::_S_create_c_locale name not valid"

    If stellarium does not start, and you see this message on the console:

    terminate called after throwing an instance of 'std::runtime_error'
      what():  locale::facet::_S_create_c_locale name not valid
    Abort trap

    Try setting the LC_ALL environment variable to "C" and re-run.

    I experience very slow rendering, very low framerates on my computer.

    This happens when hardware rendering is disabled. If you have a 3D video card, make sure that your OpenGL drivers are installed and up to date.

    Stellarium crashes after it has been running for a while.

    Stellarium is pretty processor intensive. This means things can get quite warm inside your computer. If you experience freezes or computer crashes, you might have a heat problem. If this is the case, other processor intensive tasks such as mp3 encoding should lead to the same problem. In the newest versions, a frame rate limiter is present. That should solve your problem.

    Some moons are in another position than they should be.

    Currently we have no accurate ephemeris for Charon and no ephemeris for Neptunian satellites at all. The other satellite ephemeris should be correct. When you compare with what you see in your telescope you should enable light travel time compensation in config.ini.

    The non-Latin font for my language doesn't show up

    Chances are your language is included, but the program doesn't include a font for your language, as we're concerned about download size. Find a font for your language, and tell the program which font to use in the config.ini file. See Display complex characters in Stellarium for more details.

    Stellarium runs fullscreen at a refresh rate of 60Hz

    This is a bug in Windows XP. There are numerous fixes, and there is a small program available for it here (install at your own risk): RefreshLock.

    My local language isn't complete, or some terms are incorrect

    Translations in Stellarium are a community effort, so it is possible that a local translator started the project, but never finished it, or didn't find help with some specific words. You can help us! Translation tips are on this page: Translation using gettext

    I'm having display problems

    Problems range from missing parts in the Stellarium interface, text display problems (on S3 and ATI Rage graphics cards), to missing stars. They mostly occur on older hardware, or on specific on-board graphics chips (an onboard Geforce 4MX user solved the problem by reverting to the older driver for his model). We advise experimenting with the graphics driver (updating, changing settings, reverting to older versions) if you're comfortable doing this. For users experiencing problems with S3 graphics controllers, update the driver to the S3 Graphics ProSavageDDR driver for Windows XP.

    Many GUI enhancement, theme engine and skinning programs for Windows can cause problems with OpenGL applications including Stellarium. Please try disabling these if you have them running: WindowBlinds, WindowFX, ObjectDock, IconPackager and Entbloess (and similar programs).

    I can't record scripts (on Windows)

    Stellarium attempts to save a Stellarium script file (.sts) in your user directory. On international versions of Windows, this doesn't work perfectly yet, as the program is looking for the English "Documents and Settings" folder. Workaround: open the stderr.txt file in the Stellarium directory to see where Stellarium is trying to write, create that folder, and you should be able to record scripts now.

    When in full screen mode, I still see some of my desktop (on Windows)

    If you run WindowBlinds or another skinning/theme program, try de-activating it, or adding Stellarium to the list of applications which should be excluded.

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