Friday, April 09, 2021

found a Stellarium bug

I found an error in Stellarium white searching for constellation names. Leo, Ursa Major, Andromeda worked fine. 

If you search for "Hercules," you get dropped at the star Pollux! Weird. 

I tried again looking at the "suggestion list" and the constellation option was not offered. I also tried browsing the constellation list in the Search box. Same issue!

Actually, that's two different issues to be precise. The first is a cross-referencing problem. There are many celestial objects with the same name so you just need to clarify that in search results. But the second one is a definite bug. If you browser FROM the constellation list, you better end up at a constellation.

This was happening in the latest version, 0.21.0. I also tested in 0.18.0. Same problem. Wow. So this has been around for a while.

I reported the error to the Stellarium development team on GitHub. 

Told Chris.

Told the Stellarium community.

In short order Alexander Wolf replied. 

The second name of beta Gemini is Hercules, so, this is not an error, but I'll add context for it.

Indeed, Pollux has an alternate name. And Castor is also known as "Apollo." OK.

I was not encouraged by his clause "I'll add context." I hope he understands that there is definitely an error in the constellation list in the search. I think we're on the right track... 

Went back tto the thread and asked about the sources for star names. Alexander shared this:

Sources of the names for HIP 37826:

  • Kunitzsch, P.; Smart T. (2006). "A Dictionary of Modern star Names: A Short Guide to 254 Star Names and Their Derivations" (2nd rev. ed.). Cambridge, MA: Sky Pub. ISBN 978-1-931559-44-7
  • Allen, R. H. (1963). "Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning" (rep. ed.). New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0-486-21079-0
  • IAU Catalog of Star Names (IAU-CSN)
  • Jack W. Rhoads (1971). "Technical Memorandum 33-507-A Reduced Star Catalog Containing 537 Named Stars", Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; November 15, 1971
  • IAU Naming Stars
  • Bright Star Catalogue, 5th Revised Ed. (Hoffleit+, 1991)
  • Josef Klepesta, Antonin Rukl (1977). "Constellations: A concise guide in colour". ISBN 0600008932


Then he closed the thread. Huh?

Shouldn't it be closed when the bug is stomped out?

Then Georg Zotti shared some observations.

Hercules/Apollo are listed in the BSC and Allen, the latter mentions them as being in use until Flamsteed's times.  Today these names are totally out of use.  We have plans to let users exclude unwanted sources from the star names, when data are complete and somebody finds time to tackle a few major tasks around skycultures.


So the Hercules and Apollo references are from when John Flamsteed was around, i.e. the late 1700s. We sure do need some context.

The ability for the user to control the catalogue sources could be very helpful.

This also reveals something. For years, no other bothered to test the search of all the constellations! Sheesh.

I'll watch for a fix in a future version.

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