Stellarium–A Free Planetarium for Your Science Classroom

In the following video Middle school science team member Jim gives you a quick tour of Stellarium, a software planetarium, and highlights just a few of its features.

Stellarium is a free download for either the PC or Mac (, and mobile versions are even available.

To support your classroom use of Stellarium, staff artist Reneé has designed a Quick Key page to keep near the computer and a set of Stellarium Challenges for you and your students to chew on. Both are available as free downloads. Here are the links.

Quick Key Page

Stellarium Challenges Page

Thanks go to Jesse for setting up the screen-capture software used to make what happens on the computer screen visible and large enough to view.

In the next video in this series, Jim will show you how Stellarium can easily be configured to show the top-down view of our solar system. This is the view most familiar to students and the view that lets us compare the relative motions of the planets.

Jim Wilson

Jim entered the teaching profession as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1965. He taught algebra and chemistry at the Aga Khan Senior Secondary School in Masaka, Uganda until his return to the United States in 1968. From 1968 until 1972 he taught middle school math and science in Tulare, California and then he and his young family moved to Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia where he taught mathematics at Keira Boys High School. From 1974 to 1994 Jim served as the Math, Science, and Computer coordinator for the Tulare City Schools district in Tulare, California. During this period he became a member of the original AIMS writing team and in 1994 took an early retirement from public education to join the AIMS team fulltime. Jim’s focus at AIMS is the Middle School Science project. Jim is also an adjunct faculty member at Fresno Pacific University enjoying teaching contemporary math courses.

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