The KStars Handbook

Jasem Mutlaq

Original Author: Jason Harris
Core Developer: Akarsh Simha
Core Developer: Carsten Niehaus
Core Developer: Eric Dejouhanet
Core Developer: Heiko Evermann
Core Developer: Hy Murveit
Core Developer: James Bowlin
Core Developer: John Evans
Core Developer: Mark Holloman
Core Developer: Robert Lancaster
Core Developer: Pablo de Vicente
Core Developer: Thomas Kabelmann
Core Developer: Wolfgang Reissenberger
Revision 3.7.0 (2024-03-31)

KStars is free, open source, cross-platform astronomy software. It provides the KStars skymap, a digital planetarium with overlays and simulation tools, the Ekos astrophotography suite which acts as a client for INDI device drivers, and the FITS Viewer which displays captured sky images.

  • The KStars skymap provides an accurate graphical simulation of the night sky, from any location on Earth, at any date and time. The display includes up to 100 million stars, 13,000 deep-sky objects, all 8 planets, the Sun and Moon, and thousands of comets, asteroids, supernovae, and satellites.

    For students and teachers, it supports adjustable simulation speeds in order to view phenomena that happen over long timescales, the KStars Astrocalculator to predict conjunctions, and many common astronomical calculations. For the amateur astronomer, it provides an observation planner, a sky calendar tool, and an FOV editor to calculate field of view of equipment and display them. Find out interesting objects in the What's up Tonight tool, plot altitude vs. time graphs for any object, print high-quality sky charts, and gain access to lots of information and resources to help you explore the universe! The HiPS all-sky progressive overlay provide stunning views from numerous surveys spanning the whole electromagnetic spectrum.

  • Ekos is a complete astrophotography solution that provides everything needed for automated or manual deep-sky imaging. It can control all INDI devices including numerous telescopes, CCD and CMOS astronomy cameras, DSLRs, focusers, filters, rotators, domes and a lot more. Ekos supports highly accurate tracking using online and offline astrometry solvers, autofocus and autoguiding capabilities, and capture of single or multiple images using its powerful built-in scheduler. It integrates well with the skymap, and FITS Viewer. It also has tools for polar alignment and measuring optical aberrations.

  • The FITS Viewer can display FITS and other format images, including those captured by Ekos. One can zoom and pan, view stretched versions of the images, see image histograms, plate-solve and find stars and coordinates in the images.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. A Quick Tour of the KStars Skymap
The Setup Wizard
Have a Look Around
Objects in the Sky
The Popup Menu
Finding Objects
Centering and Tracking
Keyboard Actions
End of the Tour
3. Configuring KStars
Setting the Geographic Location
Setting the Time
The Configure KStars Window
The DSO Catalog Database
The Catalog Management GUI
Creating a new Catalog
Catalog Color Editor
Catalog Details Dialog
Solar System
Image Overlays
Customizing the Display
Adjusting orientation of the sky map
HiPS Progressive Overlay
4. Command Reference
Menu Commands
File Menu
Time Menu
Pointing Menu
View Menu
Tools Menu
Data Menu
Observation Menu
Settings Menu
Help Menu
Popup Menu
Keyboard Commands
Navigation Keys
Menu Shortcuts
Actions for the Selected Object
Tools Shortcuts
Mouse Commands
5. Ekos
Ekos Setup
User Interface
Profile Wizard
Profile Editor
CCD & Filter Wheel Group
Capture Settings
File Settings
Limit Settings
Sequence Queue
FITS Viewer
Rotator Settings
Calibration Frames
Exposure Calculator
Video Tutorials
Theory Of Operation
Optical Train Group
Focuser Group
Camera & Filter Wheel Group
Tools Group
Focus Options
Focus Critical Focus Zone (CFZ)
Focus Advisor
Filter Settings
Build Offsets
Focus Display
Relative Profile
How to Setup for an Autofocus Run
Focuser Backlash
Adaptive Focus
Coefficient of Determination, R²
Levenberg–Marquardt Solver
Aberration Inspector
Drift Graphics
Drift Plot
Guiding with GPG
Dark Frames
PHD2 Support
Guiding Logs
Typical use
Configure StellarSolver Options
Configure StellarSolver External Programs
Configure StellarSolver Scale and Position
Configure StellarSolver Profiles
Download Index Files
Optionally get
How to Use?
Alignment Settings
Polar Alignment
Scheduler Table
Scheduling Algorithm
Scheduler Files (.esl)
Other options
Editing running jobs
Startup Procedure
Data Acquisition
Weather Monitoring
Startup & Shutdown Scripts
Mosaic Planner
Ekos Tutorials
6. FITS Viewer
Main Controls
FITS Viewer Solver
Embedded FITS Viewer
3D Star Profile & Data Visualization Tool
7. KStars Tools
Object Details Window
The Astrocalculator
Julian Day module
Sidereal Time module
Day Duration module
Equinoxes and Solstices module
Equatorial/Galactic Coordinates module
Apparent Coordinates module
Horizontal Coordinates module
Ecliptic Coordinates module
Angular Distance module
Geodetic Coordinates module
Planet Coordinates module
Altitude vs. Time Tool
Simulate Eyepiece View
What's up Tonight? Tool
The Script Builder Tool
Introduction to the Script Builder
Using the Script Builder
Solar System Viewer
Jupiter Moons Tool
Observation Planner
8. Command-Line mode for Image Generation
9. Astronomical Device Control with INDI
INDI Setup
Telescope Setup
CCD and Video-Capture Setup
Configure INDI
INDI Concepts
Remote Device Control
Running an INDI server from the command line
Secure Remote Operation
INDI Frequently Asked Questions
10. Questions and Answers
11. The AstroInfo Project
AstroInfo: Table of Contents
Celestial Coordinate Systems
The Equatorial Coordinate System
The Horizontal Coordinate System
The Ecliptic Coordinate System
The Galactic Coordinate System
The Celestial Equator
The Celestial Poles
The Celestial Sphere
The Ecliptic
The Equinoxes
Geographic Coordinates
Great Circles
The Horizon
Hour Angle
The Local Meridian
The Zenith
Julian Day
Leap Years
Sidereal Time
Time Zones
Universal Time
Aperture and Focal Ratio
Field of View
Types of Telescopes
Optical Telescopes
Observations in Other Wavelengths
Space-Based Observations
Blackbody Radiation
Dark Matter
Retrograde Motion
Elliptical Galaxies
Spiral Galaxies
Magnitude Scale
Stars: An Introductory FAQ
Star Colors and Temperatures
Cosmic Distance Ladder
Direct measurements
Standard candles
Other methods
12. Credits and License