How to Use Stellarium to Find Milky Way

HomePhotographyHow to Use Stellarium to Find Milky Way

How to Use Stellarium to Find Milky Way

Milky Way is the most favorite space object loved by photographers. No wonder because it’s really beautiful. However, taking a photo of Milky Way has never been as easy as viewing the photo of Milky Way itself.

Photographing the Milky Way is a complex job. You need to go to a wide place with low light pollution like beach or mountain. Plus, you have to wait until the sky is really clean (no clouds). You will also need to ensure to photograph long before the full moon phase since the light of moon can bother your Milky Way photograph. Lastly (this is the most important part actually), you will also need to find the location of Milky Way itself, what time it will appear.

Stellarium is a great free tool to help you finding the location of Milky Way and its emergence time. This tool is available for desktop, mobile and web. This article will show you how to use Stellarium to find the Milky Way from desktop.

First and foremost, be sure you have installed Stellarium on your computer. You can get Stellarium here. Once you are done installing Stellarium, launch the app immediately. Stellarium comes with two auto-hide panel menus. If you want these panels to always appear, just click the carpenter’s square icon at the bottom-left corner.

By default, Stellarium comes in a full-screen mode. You can toggle to the normal mode by clicking the full screen icon at the bottom panel.

Finding the Milky Way

Finding the location and appearance time of Milky Way is not that hard. The first setting you need to adjust is your current location. To do this, click the Location window menu at the left panel and enter your location.

Before getting started to find the emergence time of Milky Way you need to adjust the Milky Way brightness in order to ease your job. The brighter your setting, the easier the Milky Way to be found. Click the Sky and viewing options window and increase the number of the Milky Way brightness option.

Now it’s time to find the emergence time of Milky Way. You need to adjust the time until you see the Milky Way. Don’t worry. It’s not as hard as you thought. All you need to do is adjust the number of hour by increasing or decreasing its number. Click on the Date/time window menu at the left panel to adjust time.

Or, you can also the controls button (play, previous, next) to let the Earth rotates. You can stop the rotate once the Milky Way shows up.

While the Earth is rotating (which means the time is ticking as well), you can navigate to any direction to find the location of Milky Way. To do, click anywhere and hold while dragging your mouse in any direction. If you find the Milky Way above the letter “E”, this means that the real Milky Way is on the east. And so on and so forth.

  • E: East
  • W: West
  • S: South
  • N: North
  • NE: North East
  • SE: South East
  • SW: South West
  • NW: North West

The default settings of Stellarium display the planet labels. You can disable it to hide the planet labels from showing up on the screen. You can also disable other objects such as atmosphere, deep-sky objects, exoplanets, and so on. Simply click the toggle to disable an object.

hand-picked weekly content in your inbox


related posts