April 16, 2014

Viewing the Night Sky with Linux, Part I: KStars - page 2

KStars, Your Celestial Tour Guide

  • August 28, 2008
  • By Akkana Peck

If you want to learn the constellations or identify a bright star, KStars is just the ticket. Figure out what direction you're looking, then drag the KStars view around until you're looking in that direction. For example, the "S" in Figure 1 means I'm looking pretty much south. Then try to match the stars you see with the constellations shown in KStars.

Tip: if you find all the star names distracting, you go to Settings->Configure KStars, click on Catalogs and change the star catalog "For stars brighter than" from 4.0 to 2.0 (Figure 2).

Do you have binoculars? They're a great way to explore the night sky. Start with Jupiter (at the upper left in Figure 2, above Sagittarius). You won't have any trouble finding it -- it's the brightest thing in the southern sky for the next few months, though that's hard to tell from KStars. You can find other planets with Pointing->Find Object....

How many of Jupiter's four bright Galilean moons do you see? You can tell which ones are moons because the moons are all lined up. If you don't see any, try resting the binoculars on a fence or other solid support. A tripod mount is even better, if you have one. Now go back to KStars, center on Jupiter and zoom way in. Which moons did you see?

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