The Future of Astronomical Skycultures in Stellarium: request for comments


The free and open-source desktop planetarium Stellarium has become a popular simulation environment for astronomical phenomenology, both for scientific research and outreach. One unique feature allows to exchange the traditional European constellations of Greek/Roman tradition by constellations of other ethnic groups, as long as they are formed in the same way, i.e., by connecting bright stars into ‘‘stick figures’’, optionally augmented by artwork like scanned copperprints from old atlases or modern drawings guided by ethnographic research. However, the current software infrastructure does not allow representing several important features found in non-European cultures. For example, ‘‘dark constellations’’ formed by the dust clouds of the Milky Way cannot be represented, and there is no way to display the Lunar stations which are important in many Asian cultures. Also the current solution for multilingual translation may require additions. As member of the Stellarium development team I would like to present the current solutions and some of the shortcomings known to the team, and then open a round of discussion about which features should be added to future versions of Stellarium to fulfill scientific demands of today’s ethnoastronomers.

Georg Zotti
Georg Zotti