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george7378

Tutorial: Custom Stellarium landscapes

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After my first successful try today, I thought I'd write a little tutorial for creating landscapes. Here are some (hopefully) simple steps:

1. Take your images. All I did was take my compact camera and my tripod out to my desired location, and take a set of horizon shots (all the way round) and then import them to Autostitch to make a simple panorama (see below). I filled the ground in by copying and pasting, as you can see (the original panorama was not straight, so it left some black areas underneath). The Panorama must be a PNG, and I recommend sizing it down to about 2048 pixels in width. The following panorama has already been processed for Stellarium (see step 3) which is why the sky is missing. Once you have your panorama, move on to step 2.

panofield.png

2. Extend the canvas. This involves increasing the height of the image above and below the horizon, as shown in the illustration below. This is important because otherwise the horizon will be too 'thin' and it means that you have to zoom out too much for the scenery to be properly sized. You can see it as putting more floor between you and the horizon scenery, meaning that it appears further away from you. The actual horizon on Stellarium runs through the centre of the image, so you need to keep your image horizon in the middle of the picture when you are adding the extensions:

Canvasdemo.png

3. Delete the sky from the image. Stellarium looks for 'blank' locations in the image when it decides where the scenery ends and the sky begins, so you need to erase the actual sky from the photo. I used paint.net to select the sky in my panorama, and then pressed 'delete' to get rid of it, exposing the checkered canvas behind. You cannot just paint over it in MS Paint, you actually need to remove it from the canvas. To add extra effect, you can delete the pixels in subtle areas (between tree branches, through windows, etc...) to produce a realistic horizon.

4. Create your landscape folder. You need to add a new folder to the Program Files --- Stellarium --- landscapes directory (its name does not matter). Then, create a next file called 'landscape.ini' (you can copy and paste this from another landscape folder and erase its contents) and copy your panorama to the same folder.

5. Write your landscape file. This can be done by copying and editing the following text into your 'landscape.ini' file:

[landscape]

name = Enter your landscape name here

author = Enter your name here

description = Enter a description here

type = spherical

maptex = yourimagename.png

angle_rotatez = Enter angle

[location]

planet = Enter planet

latitude = +XXdXX'XX"

longitude = -XXdXX'XX"W

altitude = X

name: This is the name of your landscape as it will appear in the program.

author: Your name

description: A brief description of the landscape.

type: The style of image. Leave as spherical.

maptex: The filename of your panorama (in the same folder as the .ini file).

angle_rotatez: Experiment with this to get your compass points in the right location. It is a three figure bearing (i.e. - 010, 254, etc...)

planet: The name of the planet your landscape is on.

latitude/longitude: The location of your landscape on your planet. Does not need to be accurate - it is for reference purposes only. It will not affect what you see in the sky.

altitude: The altitude (M) of your spot. Once again, purely for reference.

Once you have made your panorama, adjusted the canvas size, created your folder, writted the landscape.ini file and put it with your panorama in your folder, you are ready to go.

End result:

Landscape.png

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That's excellent - thanks George, I'm going to do that tomorrow - most useful to factor in the garden trees/house etc.

David

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Thanks for posting that simple to follow tutorial :)

How would I go about making such a panorama for my garden? It is very enclosed and from where I observe the shed it less than two meters away, and also the house rises to above 30 degrees from my vantage point and I don't know if I could fit it in to a single frame heightwise. I suppose this where stitching comes in handy.

Edited by Hypernova
punctuation

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That's great, will try and give that a try. Many thanks.

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Thanks for the comments everyone - glad to be of help!

Hypernova - I have never done a panorama from an enclosed space, but I guess the trick would be to stitch the photos, yes. I don't know if Autostitch would do that automatically - it's worth a try. You will probably need more photos than if you were doing an open space too - rotating the camera changes the angle at which you look at the object, meaning that you would get all kinds of wonky image stitches.

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Thanks for posting that simple to follow tutorial :)

How would I go about making such a panorama for my garden? It is very enclosed and from where I observe the shed it less than two meters away, and also the house rises to above 30 degrees from my vantage point and I don't know if I could fit it in to a single frame heightwise. I suppose this where stitching comes in handy.

I was thinking about taking the frames in portrait (rather than landscape) and then sticking those together to make a 'fatter' panorama.

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Excellent, thanks for posting this, when the snow is gone I will try and do a run for my garden.

Tim

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As you zoom in and out does the apparent height of objects on the horizon change. Or is the height of objects on the horizon only correct for one particular level of zoom.

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I was thinking about taking the frames in portrait (rather than landscape) and then sticking those together to make a 'fatter' panorama.

Good idea Mike, it's exactly how I take any panorama... minimises parallax issues.

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try that myself, thanks for the tutorial, should have plenty of time as weather here been horriable for ages

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Thanks for this guide. It works great! It is going to help in finding things in the night sky. Never thought of customizing Stellarium before I saw this guide.

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I've been wondering how to do this - now I know!!

Many thanks.....

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I gave this a go and it looks great. Just wish I could sort out the horizon so it reflects real life. atm the stars are too high in the sky, Stars are way above the roofline in Stellarium but are not visable in real life. I guess I just need to keep adding black to the bottom of the image till I get it right. :)

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I made one a few years ago - my garden has changed a bit since!

post-13219-133877556383_thumb.jpg

I also made a 'Simple' landscape for Stellarium that has a semi-transparent 'ground' for quick looks at when things are rising/setting.

You can also find a Hevelius Sky Cluture for Stellarium on that page - still a work in progress.

post-13219-133877556387_thumb.jpg

post-13219-13387755638_thumb.jpg

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I have also found that the free Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) is very good at stiching and will take as many pictures as you can throw at it. They have a video over at Microsoft Research of a 200 picture panorama.

I am currently re-editing my landscape that I redone with this program. Thought I'd edit the 84.3 megapixel image before I resize this time as tree branches where a pain. My panorama is currently 20,000 x 4400 pixels. I'm gonna have loads of fun resizing it. Will post a screenie when done.

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Excellent. I was wondering how to do this myself just the other day. So thank you :icon_eek:

Got my garden nicely into it, just need to work out how to get the height of objects correct. Our garden slopes upwards so trying to get less northern sky than south seems difficult.

Cheers

Ian

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This is awesome.

Today I went outside to take a bunch of photographs. At first, I used my DSLR and took a landscape panorama at three levels (low/ground, middle/horizon and high/rooftops/treetops).

Using Microsoft ICE, it failed miserably to stack (probably due to operator error).

So I went out and used my compact camera and in portrait orientation took a single panoramic set, making sure to catch the tops of rooftops and trees. I filled in the ground later using Photoshop. I still have a hole in the base below my feet, but that's ok. It is quite nice to see the southern hemisphere below my feet :D

I haven't got it aligned quite right and the main sources of light pollution aren't shown, but this will help planning a session so much easier.

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I don't suppose anyone has done this for Kielder or SGL? That would be soooo cool! I could plan my sessions for star camps then. If not I will endeavour to remember to do it in the autumn.

Excellent!

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I don't suppose anyone has done this for Kielder or SGL? That would be soooo cool! I could plan my sessions for star camps then. If not I will endeavour to remember to do it in the autumn.

Excellent!

Depending on the site layout and the accuracy you're looking for, you'd have to do one pretty much per pitch or thereabouts.

When I head to my first HantsAstro group meeting, I'll see if I can get a Stellarium landscape made up of the sites there.

Mike

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Yeah good point mike...still, something to do during the day then! :D

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