January 24, 2017

Viewing the Night Sky with Linux, Part III: Stellarium and Celestia Take You There - page 2

Stellarium's Superior Images

  • September 22, 2008
  • By Akkana Peck

The sky looks beautiful in Stellarium (Figure 2). Stars show their real colors, planets look big and bright, and stars even twinkle realistically. You can toggle constellation lines, names and figures, star names, nebula names and other information using the buttons along the bottom of the window.

If you look closely, you can even see some deep-sky objects like star clusters. In Figure 2, the star cluster M7 is visible, hanging above the tail of Scorpius. Zoom in on it to see what it would look like in a telescope (Figure 3). Or use the Search for object button to find the nearby globular cluster M22 (Figure 4).

I was continually struck by how well Stellarium's view matched that of a telescope. Galaxies like M81 and M82 (Figure 5) are dim and subtle, just as they would be if you were hunting for them in the sky. But look carefully and you can see their shapes, dust lanes and other details.

The only exception is diffuse nebulae like the Lagoon nebula. Stellarium can find them but doesn't draw them. Aside from that minor problem, Stellarium was beautiful and satisfying. If your machine has the oomph to run it, it's well worth checking out.

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