Astronomy Software for Linux

Discussion in 'Linux Other' started by DevynCJohnson, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Well-Known Member Staff Member Staff Writer

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    Have you ever wanted to explore the Universe. Well, with Linux, you can install many kinds of astronomy simulators and look at the universe from your Linux system. After reading this article, you will be able to have the universe in your Linux system.

    astro0.png

    Xplanets is an application that allows users to experiment with the dynamics of a solar system. For example, users can create a circle representing a planetary body. This program only simulate physics. The planets and their moons have no properties themselves besides motion, size, and mass.

    astro_planets.png

    Stellarium is a star-gazing simulator where the user is in some country land to gaze at the sky. Users can simulate various binoculars and telescopes. Users can also set the time, time elapse rate, visible objects, and toggle labels. Stellarium is primarily used for educational purposes. Stellarium is compatible with planetarium projectors. For those of you that use mobile devices, you can get Stellarium Mobile for Android, iOS, and other mobile operating systems. The homepage is http://www.stellarium.org/. Here, users can get plugins and information about Stellarium.

    astro_stella_moon.png

    astro_stellarium.png
    astro_stella_star.png

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    KDE users may enjoy KStars which is a star-gazing application like Stellarium. (http://edu.kde.org/kstars/)


    Celestia is a detailed 3D-simulator. Users can explore the universe including other solar systems. Users can travel to various astronomical objects by pressing buttons to move or by looking through the object browser. The graphics are detailed and the application is not resource intensive as one might expect. Common uses for Celestia include educational teaching material and general hobbyists. Celestia's homepage is http://www.shatters.net/celestia/. People may get addons at http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/.

    astro_cele_leo.png

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    OpenUniverse is a lot like Celestia. They both have a similar interface and set of features. Some users may prefer Celestia or OpenUniverse. Overall, it is best to try each one to see which one you like. (http://www.openuniverse.org/)

    astro_open.png

    Digital Universe is another planetarium open-source software that some users may like better than Celestia and OpenUniverse. (http://www.amnh.org/our-research/hayden-planetarium/digital-universe/)

    XEphem is another piece of planetarium software for Linux. However, this program is proprietary. (http://www.clearskyinstitute.com/xephem/)

    For those of you who like the Internet and fiction, here is a public universe simulator (http://www.galaxiki.org/). Users can make and experiment with a fictional universe that is accessible to the public. Yes, the server only offers a single universe that is shared with the whole public. This community game can help people understand astronomy by making and manipulating the virtual universe. Or, users can use it to meet new people.

    Starmaps can be created with software called PP3 (http://pp3.sourceforge.net/). The starmaps are saved as a PDF, Postscript, or LaTeX file.

    Users can also learn the surface of the moon with “Virtual Moon Atlas”. The homepage is http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start.

    Deep sky objects can be studied with software called “Where is M13?”. This software can be found at http://www.thinkastronomy.com/M13/index.html.

    For those of you that are deeply interested in astronomy, there is a Linux distro dedicated to astronomy. This distro is called “Distro Astro” and can be found here (http://www.distroastro.org/).

    Not all of this software will be in your repositories. If you want some of these programs, then you may need to go to the project's site.

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  2. Jim Laughlan

    Jim Laughlan Active Member

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    I use Stellarium as well. Great program!
  3. hongshu

    hongshu New Member

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    Nice
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  4. jagmint

    jagmint New Member

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    I thought only Stellarium and Celestia are available, but you made me know there are so much!. Stellarium & Celestia are both very good and unbelievable that its FREE!. Thanks for sharing.

    By the way the 1st screenshot which you posted containing the list of softwares.. the GUI is so nice in the screenshot, which desktop system is that? is it GNOME or KDE or someother. Thanks
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  5. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Well-Known Member Staff Member Staff Writer

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    I use the Unity desktop environment. The program in the screenshot is Synaptic. Synaptic is a GUI frontend to "apt-get". I love it and I strongly recommend it.
  6. Mariarti

    Mariarti New Member

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    I would like to know which program would be useful for a project I have in mind.
    I want to be able to attach my USB HD cam to my 8" telescope which is controlled by the computer running Lubuntu, and be able to tell where the telescope is looking and what objects are to be found there. Ideally, I can use the star maps as an overlay I can turn on and off as I need.
    Any unidentified object will be flagged for later investigation. I am sure some one is using such a system to identify asteroids or comets, but I don't know.
    Can anyone point me to the right direction?
    Much appreciated.
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  7. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Well-Known Member Staff Member Staff Writer

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    @Mariarti , that is a very good question. I never thought of something like that before (very clever). I do not know the specifics on doing this, but here are general ideas to help you get started.

    The program that would control the telescope must communicate with Stellarium, Celestia, OpenUniverse, Kstars, or some other program. Find a way to make the telescope controller feed the coordinates into one of the programs. If needed, perhaps, you could write a simple script. However, if one of these programs could control the telescope itself, then that would help.

    Celestia cannot control telescopes (https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Celestia/Why_Celestia). However, I wonder if there is still a way to input coordinates and list objects since Celestia supports scripting (https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Celestia#Scripting & https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Celestia/Command_Line). In addition, Celestia does have addons (http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/). Maybe, you could find an addon that can satisfy your needs. (PDF Manual - http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/creators/fsgregs/CelestiaUsersGuide1-5-1.pdf)

    Kstars does control telescopes directly (if the hardware is supported). This page (https://edu.kde.org/kstars/indi/telescopes/) includes details, lists supported drivers, and states that USB is supported. However, I recommend trying Stellarium first and then Celestia because they are very powerful and well supported (plus Stellarium seems to more promising; continue reading to understand why I say this).

    I am not familiar with the advanced/special features of these programs. You may want to do some research, visit their official websites, and ask in their forums.

    Below are some links that I found on the Internet. I have not previewed the below videos or read the whole articles, so I do not know how well they will help you. Sourceforge is down, so some links may not work. Stellarium.org is on Sourceforge's server. The listed Stellarium links have titles that sound promising (but Sourceforge is down for maintenance, so I cannot see the below links (Google Cache may help).
    Once you have found the best software for your project or need help with scripting, feel free to ask for more help in these forums (Linux.org). However, ask in a new thread and please tag me (by including " @DevynCJohnson " in your post) so that I can continue to help you and learn from your experience.

    By the way, here is an idea. If you could find the software to accomplish your goal, then you could find a way to make your own website where the telescope could be controlled remotely by paid users (people that purchase a user account on your website to use the telescope). Alternately, let educational institutions have a free account and then file your free service on your taxes. This is just a potential money-making idea. (^u^)
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