Students will explore Stellarium, an open-source planetarium and astronomical visualization software.

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1 page 22 STELLARIUM* OBJECTIVE: Students will explore, an open-source planetarium and astronomical visualization software. BACKGROUND & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This lab was generously provided by the Red Rocks Community College astronomy program. is an open-source example of astronomical software which shows the location of astronomical objects and give information about them. Astronomers uset his software to plan observing sessions, point telescopes, run planetarium shows and just for fun! SKILLS/COMPETENCIES: Define each of the related vocabulary words. Distinguish between different concepts within a topic. Apply concepts to new situations. Demonstrate the ability to select and apply contemporary forms of technology to solve problems or compile information. MATERIALS: Computer with installed PRE-LAB If you are doing this lab on your personal computer, you must install. Go to choose your computer s operating system from the choices at the top of the screen and follow the download instructions.

2 page 23 LAB TASK 1: EXPLORING STELLARIUM 1. The first thing to do when trying out any new software is just click on everything. If you slide your mouse to the bottom of the screen, a row of icons appears. Hover over each icon with your mouse to see what it is. Click on different ones to see what happens. Then do the same for the row of icons that appears when you move your mouse to the left side of the screen. 2. Now let s try a few things. The first thing you want to do when using any planetarium software is to make sure you re looking at the sky from your own location. Go to the left side of your screen and find the location icon. Click on this and the location window should appear. Choose Denver from the pull down list on the right (or whatever other location is a good fit for you) and then click on Use as Default. When you re done, you can close this window. Location I chose: Latitude of this location: Longitude of this location: 3. You re probably working on this lab during the day, but one of the cool things about planetarium software is that you don t have to look at the sky the way it is right now. Go to the left side of the screen and find the time window. Note that you can go to any time in the past or future. Play with this a little, to see what happens. Then, for right now, set the time to Jan. 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm. 4. At the bottom of the screen are several icons related to constellations. Try turning on all three of these lines labels and art. Now list four major constellations that are in the sky tonight. You can also turn on the Azimuthal Grid and list the altitude and azimuth (in degrees) of a major star in each of your constellations. (Altitude is height above the horizon and azimuth is direction, with North being 0 degrees and South being 180 degrees.) Constellation Major Star Altitude Azimuth 5. Study one of the constellations you ve picked for a few minutes to see where you would look for it in the sky, what the major stars look like, etc. Then turn off the constellation lines and art and try

3 page 24 to find it among the stars that are left. Do you think you could find this in the real sky after using? Why or why not? 6. Now go to the current time. The easiest way to do this is by clicking on the third icon from the left at the bottom of your screen. Since it s probably daylight outside, you can t see much. Use the Fast Forward button to speed up time so that the sky advances to tonight s sky. Then pause by clicking on the Play button to stop time. Look for four constellations in tonight s sky (different from those above) and repeat steps 4 and 5. If the sky is clear tonight, go out and try to find at least one of these constellations. Constellation Major Star Altitude Azimuth 7. Let s return to the time Jan. 1, 2011 at 8:00 pm, stop time here, and see what else can do. The Search icon is on the left. Open the search window and search for Rigel. What constellation is Rigel in? 8. Now search for M42. Fill in the following for M42, from the information that is display at the top left of your screen. Common Name: Altitude: Azimuth: Type of Object:

4 page You ve probably already figured out that there are various ways to move around the screen. Hit the Center on selected object icon at the bottom of your screen to see what happens. Also try clicking and dragging your screen and using the up and down arrows. Describe what happens. 10. There are also several ways to zoom in on an object in. You can use the mouse wheel on your mouse, the forward and back slash keys or the Page Up and Page Down keys. With M42 still selected, try each of these options and describe what happens below. (You click on M42 to re-select it. It s selected if it has a little box around it that s sort of pulsing.) 11. Now let s explore some other icons. Click on each of the following, describe what happens and explain what you re seeing or why it s useful: Night mode: Atmosphere: Cardinal Points: Ground:

5 page You should still have the Altazimuth Grid turned on. If not, turn it on and describe this grid in detail. How is it laid out? Where is it centered? When you use the arrow keys to move your screen, how does it move relative to this grid? 13. Now click on the Switch between Equatorial and Azimuthal mount icon. It looks like a little telescope and is at the bottom of your screen. Again, play with the arrow keys and describe what happens. Is this a useful arrangement? Why or why not? 14. Leaving your Mount as it is, turn off the Altazimuth Grid and turn on the Equatorial Grid. Describe this grid in detail. It will be helpful if you face north while you do this. How is it laid out? Where is it centered? When you use the arrow keys to move your screen, how does it move relative to this grid?

6 page Look up Local Sky coordinates and Equatorial Coordinates in your text and explain what you re seeing in the previous two steps in terms of this information. 16. One of the icons on the left side of the screen brings up the Configuration Window. Explore the various tabs in this window. A lot of this is advanced stuff that you won t need right away, but one interesting section is the Scripts Tab. Run at least two of these and describe what you see. When you re finished, hit the Stop button in the Scripts Tab. If this doesn t clear them, you can just close and re-open. It can be a bit stubborn about this.

7 page Now open the only window you haven t played with yet the Sky and Viewing Options Window. Again, you should just explore the tabs thoroughly, to see what s here. But in particular, try the following and describe what happens: Increase and decrease Light Pollution under the Sky Tab: Play with the sliders for Stars and Planets under the Sky Tab: Experiment with different landscapes under the Landscape Tab: Try and describe each of the Projections under the Markings Tab. (This will be easier to see if you zoom out quite a bit.):

8 page Choose the Starlore Tab in the Sky and Viewing Options Window and choose a culture other than Western. Describe a couple of constellations from another culture, provide one interesting fact you learned from this window about the culture and provide at least two facts you found by following one of the links offers.

9 page 30 TASK 2: SUMMARY Now that you ve had a chance to get to know and discover some of what it can do, we re going to summarize what you ve learned. Write a one paragraph advertisement for a magazine or website for, describing what it can do and why it s of use to someone like yourself. Try to sell it, and have some fun with it!

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