It’s kinda hard to see the stars around here in Taiwan, perhaps the weather pollution is too high? The last time I saw the nightsky full of stars was in Yogyakarta, Indonesia back when I was still in highschool. Yes, it’s beautiful.
Anyways, Stellarium is a great piece of software for those of you who love looking at the night sky, or perhaps want to know a bit more about the names of the stars, constellation, or even nebulae. And yes, it’s very simple to use.
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.
First you might want to set your location (or not) using the configuration window (Keyboard shortcut: 1), then Stellarium will render the sky to your computer’s monitor in realtime. Then you can click and drag the nightsky/sky to gaze around and be amazed. If it is daytime on where you’re at, simply change your current location to somewhere else in the other part of the globe to see the nightsky immediately.
On the bottom-left side of the screen are some toggles for atmosphere, constellation art, star names, and many more. On the bottom-right side are the time controls, you can slow down time, return to normal speed, speed up time, and return to current time based on your position. (Click on the thumbnail below to see a bigger pic).
For those of you who want to, say, change the landscape using your own panoramic photos, or maybe change the constellation art, be sure to check out the Customization section on their site’s FAQ.
Happy stargazing! ;)