Click the button above to toggle between "Basic" and "Advanced".
"Basic" describes only the items on the Control Panel that are visible by default. "Advanced" includes the items that appear when you click the "+" buttons beside the section headings on the Control Panel. An exception is the "Audio" section, which does not appear at all unless it is requested under "Options".
The instructions below assume that you have a standard 3-button mouse (two buttons and a mouse wheel) or a touch screen. If that is not what you have, there is a table of equivalents below, under Pointers.
|Show||Right mouse click or
Left mouse click on "Control" tab at middle left or
Press Esc key.
|Hide||"Hide" button or
Right mouse click or
Press Esc key.
|Restore All Defaults||Reset all control settings to their original values, except for those under "Options".|
|Expand or shorten a section||Click on +/− button.|
|Scroll up or down||Left mouse drag up or down on Control Panel.|
|Location||Control Panel||Mouse or Touch||Keyboard||Comments|
|Home Planet or Moon||"Home" drop menu on control panel.
Will contain all planets plus moons of current planet.
|Sun will stay in the same position (on or off screen) and new Home Planet will be in same position (on or off screen) as the old Home Planet was.|
|Click on another planet or moon ("jaunting").||Jaunting will take you along the line to the planet/moon you click on,
usually to a point the same distance above the surface of new planet
as you now are above this surface of the old one.
You will jaunt to the first planet or moon listed in the info bar that is not your home planet – if there is such a moon or planet.
By default, you will jaunting at a speed that depends on your planets or moons of origin and destination – so you can enjoy the trip without it taking too long. Under Options there is a setting that lets you control how fast you travel.
A jaunt will be canceled if you change planets on the control panel, start a new jaunt by clicking on another destination planet, or if you reload the planetarium web page.
|Longitude and latitude||Sliders and number boxes.||Left mouse drag on planet. Set altitude ≥ 1.1 first, or not much will happen.||Longitude and latitude are those of point below you on your home planet. They are shown (Long. and Lat.) beside the Location heading.|
|Altitude||Slider or number box. The number box has up and down arrows when selected.||Turn mouse wheel when info bar listing home planet appears.||PageUp and PageDown keys.||Distance from Home Planet's center. Unit is Home Planet's radius.|
|Floating or fixed position||"Floating"/"Fixed" toggle button.||"Fixed" means you stay over the same point on the planet.
"Floating" means that you don't go around with the planet as it turns. You still go with it as it orbits the Sun.
When "floating", your longitude will change continuously as time changes.
|Long., Lat.||Sliders and number boxes||
More accurate for setting location on planet than dragging on the planet.
Useful for stargazing if you want to view the sky from a specific place that is not where you are.
|Location Decimals||Slider and number box.||Control the number of decimal places shown in the number boxes under Location.|
|Jaunt speed||Drop menu.||
Average speed during a jaunt.
Jaunt speed will be slower near beginning and end,
when there may be more to see.
"Half", "Double", and "Triple" mean that multiple of normal speed.
"Instant" means that jaunting is completed immediately, like ordinary planet change.
|Set From GPS||Button (appears only when home planet is Earth)||Sets current longitude and latitude to that provided by the computer.
User must grant permission for Planetarium to receive position information.
|View||Change on Control Panel||Change with Mouse or Touch||Change with Keyboard||Comments|
(Point at center of planetarium window)
Left mouse drag anywhere off of home planet and trackball.
Left drag on trackball will change it faster.
While left dragging on the screen, a white cross will appear in the middle of it, in case you want to put something there.
|Arrow keys||Equatorial coordinates of view point are shown on "View" line.
RA = "Right Ascension" = sky version of longitude
D = Dec = Declination = sky version of latitude
(Which way is up)
|Left-drag the mouse along the very bottom of the Planetarium window.||R and T keys.|
|Zoom slider and number box||Turn mouse wheel with mouse anywhere off of home planet||Plus and minus keys.||Increasing zoom increases screen refresh rate up to a max of 10 per second.
That causes the Planetarium to use more computational power.
|"Look At" drop menu.||Bring selected planet to center of Planetarium window,
with its north pole pointing up.
The planet you are looking at may be behind your home planet!
(the stars or a planet)
|"Track" drop menu.||Tracking Stars keeps the same view point at the center
of the screen as time passes.
Tracking a moon or planet or Sun keeps that object at the same point on or off screen.
If you change planets using the Planet drop menu on the Control Panel, the tracked planet, not the Sun, will stay in the same place on or off screen.
|Sliders and number boxes||
RA (Right Ascension) and Dec, or just D,
the equatorial coordinates of the point in the sky you are
looking at. They are planet specific – the same point
will have different coordinates on different planets.
Bearing is the angle between "up" on the screen and north on your planet. It is a third way to control orientation.
If you want to observe a particular star, say, a close double, and zoom way in on it, either track Stars or stop the clock, then set the equatorial coordinates you want.
|View Decimals||Slider and number box||Control the number of decimal places shown in the number boxes under View.|
|Restore View Defaults||Button||
Sets: Zoom = 1, Elevation = -89, Rotation = 0, Roll = 0, Tracking = None,
View Decimals = 1, Can Roll = true. |
Equatorial coordinates will depend on your Home Planet and Location on that planet.
|Can Roll/No Roll||Button||
Appears only when you are on or near the
surface of a planet.
If you set No Roll, any movement will set Roll to 0, so that up onscreen will be up, the direction away from the center of your Home Planet.
Useful for stargazing.
|Information||Control Panel||Mouse or Touch||Keyboard||Comments|
|Lines||Lines button||Planet's ecliptic (plane of its orbit around the Sun) is
Equator and lines of RAthrough the points where equator and ecliptic cross are gold.
Other lines of Right Ascension (RA, "sky longitude") and Declination (D or Dec., "sky latitude") are grey
Lines of D are spaced by 10°.
Lines of RA are spaced by 15° (the angle that the Earth turns in one hour).
|Star, Planet, and Constellation Labels||No Labels/All Labels/Planet Labels button.||Double-click cycles through label states.||Pressing L key cycles through label states.||Star labels are color-coded by constellation.
More labels will appear with zoom.
Planet labels are green. Moon labels are smaller and greenish.
Planet and moon labels decrease in size with distance and increase in size with zoom, but less than the change in distance or zoom.
Planet and moon labels are meant to appear when they are needed. Planet labels should appear when you are too far away to recognize the planet. Moon labels should disappear when the moon can no longer see the moon as separate from its planet.
|Info Bar||Mouseover star, planet, or moon||Stars: name or number, constellation, brightness
as magnitude – smaller is brighter; negative is possible.
Planets: name, distance from viewer to planet's surface, in AU (Astronomical Units) or km, how much the planet is magnified (how much larger it appears than it should).
1 AU = average distance of Earth from Sun, about 150 million km or 93 million miles.
If annotations are ON, a message will appear at lower left
whenever you do something with a mouse button or with
If you are making a video with the planetarium, that saves you from having to tell viewers about what you are doing that they can't see.
|Date and Time||Comments|
|Time settings||Planetarium Date and Time. It should be obvious how to set
most of these.
The up and down arrows to the right and left of the months select box will move forward or back through the months.
|Use Real Time||
Set planetarium date and time from computer's date and time.
Does not change the timezone.
|Toggle UTC||Switch between timezone as set on computer (local) and UTC/GMT.|
|Time Rate||Number of seconds of planetarium time that pass for each second of real time|
|In case you weant a timezone other than UTC or Local.
"Use Current Time" does not change this.
If this value is non-zero, "Toggle UTC" will set UTC time.
|Clock Running/Stopped||Stopping the clock is useful if you have some
setup that needs at or near a particular time.
"Use Current Time" will restart the clock.
There are two reasons why we need to magnify planets so we can see them well.
The magnification settings apply when a planet or moon is far away and there is no zoom. As we approach an object or zoom increases, its magnification is reduced until it reaches 1.0.
If you put the mouse on a planet or moon, the last item in the info bar, such as "(4.3x)", shows how much it is being magnified now, not counting zoom.
|Planet Max Magnification||Comments|
|Planets||All planets but the Sun, Home Planet, and Home Planet's moons. Home Planet always looks as big as it should.|
|Local Moons||If Home Planet is a planet, "Local Moons" means its moons.
If Home Planet is a moon, local moons are the other moons of its parent planet.
Does not include Earth's moon.
This control appears only when there are moons to which it applies.
|Sun/Moon (and sometimes Earth)||This is the maximum magnification for Sun and Moon. Earth should be magnified this much when it is viewed from the Moon without any Zoom. From farther away, Earth magnification will increase to that for planets, if that is bigger.|
|Sun Bright(ness)||Affects how bright the planets look, not how bright the Sun looks.|
|Restore Planet Defaults||Set Planet Magnification to 40, Local Moons to 1, Sun/Moon (and Earth) magnification to 5, Sun Brightness to 3.|
On the surface of the Earth, star colors should be as they appear from Earth. In space stars appear bluer. The Earth's atmosphere absorbs about half of their blue light.
|Brightness||Increasing this value makes dim stars brighter and bright stars bigger.|
Intensity of star colors.
Try turning it up to 10 to see. At Color Level 1, stars are all white.
|Restore Star Defaults||Sets Brightness to 60 and Color Level to 5.|
When audio is enabled, the planetarium will play a sound determined by the color of the point that is either:
Disabled/Mouse Only/Center button. When you load the
planetarium page, audio is always disabled.|
Web browsers will not play audio unless you press this button to enable it, so you will have to do that
whenever you load the page and want to turn audio on.
To make this section appear, you must press the "Show Audio" button under Options.
|Star halo||Determines how far from the edge of a star the sound of
that star can be heard.
Expressed as a fraction of the radius of the planet.
Larger values produce choral effects when the pointer or center is in a group of stars.
|Trackball On/Off||Toggles the Trackball at upper left of the planetarium window.|
|NESW On/Off||When you are on or near the surface of a planet,
there can be markers for the 8 directions N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW.
This button turns them on or off.
|Onscreen Controls (Yes/No/Maybe)||"Yes" means the onscreen controls are always visible;
"No", never visible;
"Maybe" means that they are visible when the Control Panel is hidden.
|Label Colors (Equi-spaced/Alternate)||Different color schemes for star and contellation labels. Use the one you prefer.|
|Jaunt alt. factor||
Altitude will not change by more than this factor when you
jaunt. That is so your new planet will not be
inconveniently small, nor will you be so low that you have
to back off a lot to get a good look at it.
Jaunting is supposed to give a strong impression of the difference in size between your moon or planet of origin and your destination, so this number should be fairly large.
Press this button to make the Audio section, above, appear or disappear.
That does not change any audio values that have already been set.
The idea of the Offscreen Controls is that they should be just enough to support a beatific meditative state when you close the control panel and go jaunting around the Solar System. Let me know if they are not, and say what else you really need.
If you would rather offscreen controls appear always or never, there is a setting for that under Options.
|Three-button mouse||Touch||Buttonless Mouse||Standard Touchpad||Result Produced|
|Press left button||One-finger touch||Touch left side of mouse||Press down with one finger
|To left-drag, move mouse or finger while doing this.
With a touchpad, you can press with
|Press right button||Three-finger touch||Touch right side of mouse||Press down with two fingers||Open or close Control Panel|
|Turn mouse wheel||Pinch or spread two fingers||Move a finger along middle of mouse||Glide two fingers toward you or away||Change Altitude or Zoom|
|Double click||Double touch||Double click||Double click||Cycle star and planet labels|
|Mouseover a star or planet||(Brief!) One-finger touch||Mouseover||Mouseover||Display info bar|
|Click on planet||One-finger touch on planet and hold for 0.2 sec.||Click||Click||Jaunt|
The brighter stars in a constellation have usually been given Greek
The order of the letters will be roughly the order of their brightness.
|Α α||Β β||Γ γ||Δ δ||Ε ε||Ζ ζ||Η η||Θ θ||Ι ι||Κ κ||Λ λ|
|Μ μ||Ν ν||Ξ ξ||Ο ο||Π π||Ρ ρ||Σ σ||Τ τ||Υ υ||Φ φ||Χ χ||Ψ ψ||Ω ω|