Stellarium – open source planetarium

Stellarium is a software project that allows people to use their home computer as a virtual planetarium. It calculates the positions of the Sun and Moon, planets and stars, and draws how the sky would look to an observer depending on their location and the time. It can also draw the constellations and simulate astronomical phenomena such as meteor showers, and solar or lunar eclipses.

Stellarium can be used as an educational tool for teaching about the night sky, or as an observational aide for amateur astronomers wishing to plan a night’s observing.

It renders the skies in realtime using OpenGL.

Because of the high quality of the graphics that Stellarium produces, it is used in some real planetarium projector products.

Some amateur astronomy groups use it to create sky maps for describing regions of the sky in articles for newsletters and magazines.

Features include:


  • Default catalogue of over 600,000 stars from the Hipparcos Catalogue and the Tycho-2 Catalogue.
  • Extra catalogues with more than 177 million stars.
  • Default catalogue of over 80,000 deep-sky objects
  • Asterisms and illustrations of the constellations.
  • Constellations for 20+
  • different cultures.
  • Images of nebulae (full Messier catalogue).
  • Realistic Milky Way.
  • Realistic atmosphere, sunrise and sunset.
  • The planets and their satellites.


  • A powerful zoom.
  • Time control.
  • Multilingual interface.
  • Scripting to record and play your own shows.
  • Fisheye projection for planetarium domes.
  • Spheric mirror projection for your own dome.
  • Graphical interface and extensive keyboard control.
  • Telescope control.


  • Equatorial and azimuthal grids.
  • Star twinkling.
  • Shooting stars.
  • Eclipse simulation.
  • Tails of comets.
  • Iridium flares simulation.
  • Eclipse simulation.
  • Supernovae and novae simulation.
  • 3D sceneries
  • Skinnable landscapes, now with spheric panorama projection.


  • Plugin system adding artifical satellites, ocular simulation, telescope configuration and more.
  • Ability to add new solar system objects from online resources…
  • Add your own deep sky objects, landscapes, constellation images, scripts…

Support: FAQ, Mailing List, Forum, GitHub, Twitter
Developer: Fabien Chereau, Rob Spearman, Johannes Gajdosik, Johan Meuris, Matthew Gates, Nigel Kerr
License: GNU GPL v2


Stellarium is written in C++. Learn C++ with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

Return to Scientific Home Page | Return to Astronomy Home Page

Make a Donation
Click the button to make a donation via flattr. Donations help us to maintain and improve the site. You can also donate via PayPal.

Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
Share this article

Share your Thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.