Telescope Control

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As of version 0.10.4, Stellarium offers two ways to control a computerized telescope or telescope mount:

  • the old client-server model: Stellarium acts as a "client" to a small stand-alone program (a "telescope server") that drives the telescope. This method requires editing Stellarium's configuration file and running console applications, so it is not very user-friendly.
    • This is the only option (for now) to command a telescope using the Remote Telescope System v.2 protocol on Linux.
    • The old built-in client module is not loaded if the Telescope Control plug-in is loaded.
  • the Telescope Control plug-in (included since 0.10.3) offers a graphical user interface (a configuration window) and direct telescope connection through a serial port. No stand-alone server is necessary, but one can be used for connecting over a network.

Both options allow Stellarium to connect to third party applications (see below) that use Stellarium's telescope control protocol.

Both options allow Stellarium to control a telescope connected to another computer through a network connection.

Both options allow Stellarium to send only "slew" ("go to") commands and to receive the current position. Stellarium cannot issue any other commands, so users should be aware of the possibility for mount collisions and similar situations.

Both options require that the various necessary preparations (entering geographical coordinates, performing alignment, etc.) are done to the telescope before connecting to Stellarium.

WARNING: Stellarium CANNOT prevent your telescope from being pointed at the Sun.

  • Never point your telescope at the Sun without a proper solar filter installed. The powerful light amplified by the telescope WILL cause irreversible damage to your eyes and/or your equipment.
  • Even if you don't do it deliberately, a slew during daylight hours may cause your telescope to point at the sun on its way to the given destination, so it is strongly recommended to avoid using the telescope control feature before sunset without appropriate protection.

Supported devices

A list of supported devices can be found here:

Third party applications

These application act as "servers" in the client-server model. They can be used both with the old feature and the Telescope Control plug-in:

  • StellariumScope is a program for MS Windows allowing Stellarium to control a variety of telescopes using the ASCOM drivers. It extends the number of devices that can be controlled by Stellarium and adds commands such as "sync" and "stop".
    • An instruction on how to use the Telescope Control plug-in and StellariumScope to control a HEQ5/EQ6 type equatorial mount can be found here: HEQ5/EQ6. Written by Karl Van Louwersen.
  • StellLXTSRB is a telescope server for Mac OS X, developed by Tony Barry. It has been used successfully with a Meade ETX-80 and an LX-90. According to its author, it will possibly work with any LX-emulating telescope.

Telescope control from Ubuntu linux

In Ubuntu everything works out of the box, after some tweaking of settings. VERY IMPORTANT to do first: First add yourself to the DIALOUT group and reboot to have these rights to take effect. Use your linux login name and not your fancy name. From a terminal:

   sudo adduser <the user you want to add> dialout

(E.G. sudo adduser myname dialout)

   sudo reboot

The computer will reboot now. (place this page in your bookmarks, so you can find it again after reboot was complete.) check if you're part of dialout with this command after you rebooted your ubuntu:

       id -Gn

Check if ttyUSB0 is part of dialout (works only if the cable is connected)

       ls -l /dev/ttyUSB0

if you use a USB to RS232 cable or

       ls -l /dev/ttyS0

if u use RS232 directly. It will show you if ttyUSB0 or ttyS0 is part of dialout. in my case the output is:

       crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 dec 22 23:01 /dev/ttyUSB0

In Ubuntu getting the telescope to work is easier than in Windows. There is absolutely no need to install any driver when you're using the 12.04 LTS version of Ubuntu. Probably not in newer versions too, but I haven't tested these.

Connect the serial cable to your RS232 port (or USB to RS232 cable) and your handset of your telescope. In Stellarium go to the settings and select plugins. Here you should select the telescope plugin. Here you can add a telescope. Give it a convenient name and choose the appropriate kind of telescope you're using. E.g. the Celestron Nexstar series. The option to connect the telescope when Stellarium is started should be selected.

The RS232 port is usualy /dev/ttyS0

The USB to RS232 is usually /dev/ttyUSB0

Now its time to align your telescope. I usually point the telescope to the Polaris. It's easy to find and can be used in a one star alignment.

After that I started Stellarium and presto, the telescope view was visible. Select an object in the sky and press CTRL 1 (if this is your first telescope in the list).

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