Telescope Setup

Most telescopes are equipped with RS232 interface for remote control. Connect the RS232 jack in your telescope to your computer's Serial/USB port. Traditionally, the RS232 connects to the serial port of your computer, but since many new laptops abandoned the serial port in favor of USB/FireWire ports, you might need to obtain a Serial to USB adaptor to use with new laptops.

After connecting your telescope to the Serial/USB port, turn your telescope on. It is highly recommended that you download and install the latest firmware for your telescope controller.

The telescope needs to be aligned before it can be used properly. Align your telescope (one or two stars alignment) as illustrated in your telescope manual.

KStars needs to verify time and location settings before connecting to the telescope. This insures proper tracking and synchronization between the telescope and KStars. The following steps will enable you to connect to a device that is connected to your computer. To connect and control remote devices, please refer to remote device control section.

You can use the Telescope Setup Wizard and it will verify all the required information in the process. It can automatically scan ports for attached telescopes. You can run the wizard by selecting Telescope Wizard from the Devices menu.

Alternatively, you can connect to a local telescope by performing the following steps:

  1. Set your geographical location. Open the Set Geographic Location window by selecting Geographic... from the Settings menu, or by pressing the Globe icon in the toolbar, or by pressing Ctrl+G.

  2. Set your local time and date. You can change to any time or date by selecting Set Time... from the Time menu, or by pressing the time icon in the toolbar. The Set Time window uses a standard KDE Date Picker widget. If you ever need to reset the clock back to the current time, just select Set Time to Now from the Time menu.

  3. Click on the ToolsDevices submenu and select the Device Manager.

  4. Under the Device column, select your telescope model.

  5. Click on the Run Service button.

  6. Click Close to leave the Device Manager Dialog.

Frequent Settings

You do not need to set the geographic location and time every time you connect to a telescope. Only adjust the settings as needed.

You are now ready to use the device features, KStars conveniently provides two interchangeable GUI interfaces for controlling telescopes:

Controlling your telescope

  1. Sky map Control: For each device you run in the Device Manager, a corresponding entry will show up in popup menu that allows you to control the properties of the device. You can issue commands like Slew, Sync, and Track directly from the sky map.

    Here is a screenshot of the popup menu with an active LX200 Classic device:

  2. INDI Control Panel: The panel offers the user with all the features supported by a device.

    The panel is divided into three main sections:

    • Device tabs: Each additional active device occupies a tab in the INDI panel. Multiple devices can run simultaneously without affecting the operation of other devices.

    • Property views on the Main Control and Options tabs: Properties are the key element in INDI architecture. Each device defines a set of properties to communicate with the client. The current position of the telescope is an example of a property. Semantically similar properties are usually contained in logical blocks or groupings.

    • Log viewer: Devices report their status and acknowledge commands by sending INDI messages. Each device has its own log view. A device usually sends messages to its device driver only, but a device is permitted to send a generic message when appropriate.

You are not restricted on using one interface over another as they can be both used simultaneously. Actions from the Sky map are automatically reflected in the INDI Control Panel and vice versa.

To connect to your telescope, you can either select Connect from your device popup menu or alternatively, you can press Connect under your device tab in the INDI Control Panel.


By default, KStars will try to connect to the /dev/ttyS0 port. To change the connection port, select INDI Control Panel from the ToolsDevices submenu and change the port under your device tab.

KStars automatically updates the telescope's longitude, latitude, and time based on current settings in KStars. You can enable/disable these using the INDI tab from SettingsConfigure KStars... submenu. Using the INDI tab you can configure KStars to display or not INDI status messages in the status bar. By default INDI server port numbers have values between the range from 7624 to 9000, but you can easily change the range using the From and To text boxes from the Server Port section.

If KStars communicates successfully with the telescope, it will retrieve the current RA and DEC from the telescope and will display a crosshair on the sky map indicating the telescope position. You can hide the crosshair that marks telescope position using INDI tab from SettingsConfigure KStars... submenu.

Synchronizing your telescope

If you aligned your telescope and the last alignment star was, for example, Vega, then the crosshair should be centered around Vega. If the crosshair was off target, then you can right-click Vega from the sky map and select Sync from your telescope menu. This action will instruct the telescope to synchronize its internal coordinates to match those of Vega, and the telescope's crosshair should now be centered around Vega.

This is it: your telescope is ready to explore the heavens!


Never use the telescope to look at the sun. Looking at the sun might cause irreversible damage to your eyes and your equipment.