Exploring Skyscape in Stellarium


  • Daniel Brown Nottingham Trent University




Landscapes, Phenomenology, Stellarium, Watching


Exploring and engaging with the skyscape is an important method for developing meaning in the context of archaeoastronomical findings. In some cases the appearance of the sky needs to be simulated to reproduce conditions as they would have been experienced during the time period of interest. To achieve this goal planetarium software such as Stellarium has been used in the past. This paper will describe the context into which work with Stellarium has to be set to ensure a full skyscape experience. The precision of the sky simulated using Stellarium is shown to be as good as one degree for time periods dating back as far as 4000 BC. Most importantly, the paper also illustrates the opportunities photorealistic panorama imported into Stellarium have in conveying realism and also allowing for a fuller experience of temporal rhythms that enforce the skyscape experience. Finally, we conclude that Stellarium offers an ideal environment to develop skyscapes beyond the usual factual and representative dimension towards an artistic tool to convey mood and capture emotion.


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Author Biography

Daniel Brown, Nottingham Trent University

Daniel Brown is a physicist who developed hands-on astronomy teaching, while at the Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, Germany. He became interested in archaeoastronomy working with Prof W Schlosser, and is a founding member of the InitiativekreisHorizontastronomy ImRuhrgebiet. He has a doctorate in theoretical stellar evolution and currently lectures in astronomy at Nottingham Trent University. His work combines the outdoor classroom, sustainability, place experience and archaeoastronomy as exemplified by his forthcoming publication ‘Skyscapes Present and Past – From Sustainability to Interpreting Ancient Remains’ in F Silva and N Campion (eds.) Skyscapes in Archaeology (Oxbow, in press). His practical work in the Peak District National Park focuses upon Gardom's Edge as well as Light pollution education.


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How to Cite

Brown, D. (2015). Exploring Skyscape in Stellarium. Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, 1(1), 93–112. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsa.v1i1.26956



Theory & Method