Gaze at the stars on your Linux PC with Stellarium

Stellarium is a digital planetarium that is free and open source. Anyone can install it and use it to gaze at stars in the sky in real-time. It also shows detailed information on planets, moons, and even constellations. Here’s how you can use Stellarium to gaze at the stars on your Linux PC.

Installing Stellarium on Linux

Stellarium is widely supported on Linux, working on all Linux operating systems out there. However, the app rarely comes pre-installed, so before we go over how to use it to gaze at the stars, we’ll need to install it first.

To install the Stellarium application on your Linux PC, you’ll need a terminal window. You can open up a terminal window on the Linux desktop by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T on the keyboard. Or, search for “Terminal” in the app menu and install it that way.

Ubuntu

Stellarium works on Ubuntu Linux just fine. To get it working on your Ubuntu Linux computer, use the following apt install command below to install the app.

sudo apt install stellarium

Debian

Stellarium works on Debian, and you’ll be able to get the app working on your computer using the built-in apt-get package manager on your computer. Keep in mind, Debian updates packages much slower than other Linux operating systems so that you may miss out on the latest Stellarium updates.

sudo apt-get install stellarium

Arch Linux

The Stellarium application is well-supported on Arch Linux. If you’d like to get the app working on your Arch Linux computer, use the following Pacman command below.

sudo pacman -S stellarium

Fedora

Those using Fedora Linux can install the Stellarium application on their system by making use of the following dnf install command.

Note: If you’re using the KDE spin of Fedora, you may already have the app installed on your computer.

sudo dnf install stellarium

OpenSUSE

The Stellarium application is available on your OpenSUSE Linux system through the included software repositories. However, if you’d like to get it working on your computer, you’ll need to run the following zypper install command down below.

sudo zypper install stellarium

Flatpak

Stellarium is on the Flathub app store as a Flatpak. If you’d like to install the application on your computer from the Flathub store, you’ll first need to set up the Flatpak runtime on Linux. To set up the runtime, please follow our guide on the subject.

After configuring the Flatpak runtime, you’ll be able to install the Stellarium application on your computer using the two commands below.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

flatpak install flathub org.stellarium.Stellarium

Snap package

The Stellarium application is in the Snap app store. If you’d like to get the app working on your computer, you must have the Snap package runtime. To get the runtime set up, follow along with our guide on the subject.

After setting up the Snap runtime on your system, the installation of Stellarium can begin. Using the snap install command below, set up the app.

sudo snap install stellarium-daily

How to use Stellarium

Stellarium is pretty straightforward to use, even for the uninitiated. To use it to look at stars in the sky, start by opening up the app. When the app is open, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Using the mouse, click and hold down the left-hand button. Once this button is held down, you can drag the sky around to look at various objects. To find an object (like a planet, the moon, or the sky), simply click on it with the mouse.

Step 2: Once you’ve selected the object in the sky you wish to view in Stellarium, click on the bar in the bottom left-hand corner. Then, select the pause button. You’ll want to pause Stellarium as it rotates, and it can be hard to focus on something without pausing.

Step 3: After pausing the playback of Stellarium in the app, use the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in on the object. Keep in mind; you may need to zoom in to get a good look at planets. 

Step 4: Once you’ve zoomed in on an object and it is in full view, find the “Sky and viewing options” button on the left-hand sidebar and select it. From here, you can toggle different viewing options for the app.

Constellations

Stellarium is excellent for constellations. Here’s how you can view them. To start, click on the bottom bar in the app. Then, select the “constellation lines” button. Selecting it will show you all of the constellations in the night sky.

After selecting the lines button, choose “constellation” labels to view the titles of each of the constellations. Lastly, click on “constellation art” if you wish to view the constellations in a more visually pleasing way.