Common problems with version 0.13

Created by gzotti on on 2014-07-19
Last updated by:
gzotti on on 2015-10-23


V0.13 is the first release based on Qt5, which brought several technical changes. The most critical is that rendering graphics with Qt5 requires at least OpenGL2.1 support. This normally utilizes a dedicated piece of hardware, the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Any recent (say, post-2011) hardware should provide sufficient functionality, but you may need to update the driver not just with the built-in Update driver search of your operating system, but with drivers downloadable from the graphic card manufacturer's website. (Sometime drivers for notebooks can only be found at the respective notebook manufacturer's support websites, and using the reference drivers from GPU manufacturers may not be completely compatible.)

In fact, the shader programs (which drive the computation on the GPU) used by Stellarium V0.13 and later require even GLSL1.30, which came only with OpenGL3.0, although some OpenGL2.1 cards also support it.

This requirement is valid for all platforms (Win/Mac/Linux, in any flavor). As always, update drivers if you see graphic problems (missing characters, flickering, ...) where there should not be any. Read the log file for warnings hinting at graphics problems. (You find the log file either in the application's help menu, or via start menu->Stellarium->Last run log.)

Graphics cards which are no longer supported by Stellarium 0.13 and later include early ATI/AMD Radeon cards up to and including the Xxxx series (built 2004/05), NVidia up to GeForce FXxxx (2003/04), and Intel GMA before X3000, unfortunately also including the popular Atom-based netbooks of 2010. For such systems, you need the MESA software rendering (circumventing the outdated graphics card on Windows, at cost of very slow performance), or you may use an older version of Stellarium. MESA is also used in many Linux installations, but allows hardware acceleration.

The following is particularly directed towards Windows users.

Particular note for Windows 10 updaters: If you update some older computer, you may have to also update graphics drivers manually. Not all graphics card manufacturers provide drivers for Win10 explicitly for their old hardware, but some drivers for Win7/Win8 may work. If Stellarium V0.11 worked for you some years ago, it should work also here. If the hardware allows it, V0.13 will also work. Don't expect latest programs to run on outdated hardware without latest drivers though.

In doubt, you can verify your GPU's capabilities with tools like "GPU Caps Viewer" (free download). If this shows support for OpenGL 1.4, 1.5 or 2.0 only, and your PC is otherwise still OK, you may consider upgrading your PC at least with a dedicated entry-level graphics card. If this is not possible, read below for MESA support.

We are providing two flavours of Windows versions. One uses OpenGL drivers directly. This should work with graphics cards from AMD/ATI series Radeon HD-2xxx and later, NVidia 8xxx and later, or Intel HD Graphics (built into Core-i processors of the "Sandy Bridge" generation) and later. Make sure you use the latest drivers from your graphics card manufacturer.

The other uses ANGLE, which translates OpenGL to DirectX on Windows 7 and later. Also here we need hardware providing DirectX VertexShader 2_0 and PixelShader 3.0 (vs_2_0 ps_3_0), i.e. DirectX10. This should include even earlier graphics cards: ATI/AMD X1xxx, NVidia 6xxx, Intel GMA X3000. Again, keep your drivers updated! Current trial versions seem to run even on WinXP, but are not 100% stable. ANGLE is officially only supported on Win7 and later, we cannot therefore do anything if it does not work on your particular XP PC.

For systems without hardware capable of supporting OpenGL2.1 with GLSL1.30 or DirectX/ps_3_0, we provide a Windows 32 build that includes the MESA software OpenGL library (providing the required minimum of OpenGL2.1 and GLSL1.30) as optional item to be selected during installation. MESA totally circumvents the GPU, all graphics is rendered with the CPU (Central Processing Unit; this is the device referred to as "Pentium", "Celeron", "Athlon", "Xeon", "Core i5", "Atom", etc.) only. Of course, this lack of dedicated hardware means a severe slowdown, but a slow system with good graphics may still be preferrable to a dysfunctional one. MESA can make use of multicore CPUs, so if you have e.g. an older multicore CPU system with only Intel GMA graphics, performance may still be OK.

So, if the OpenGL version shows problems (message about "Insufficient OpenGL support" at startup, crash just seconds after launch, or graphical errors like broken screen fonts, planets not rendered, ...) please install the OpenGL version with MESA addon. You may check for graphic-related problems in the logfile (linked from the start menu).

(2) PROBLEMS WITH COMETS (V0.13.0 only)

Version 0.13.0 was the first to display comet tails. When you add comets with the solar system editor plugin, you may be tempted to include all observable comets from the MPC database. Please don't do that in version 0.13.0! Stellarium gets very slow, because computation and rendering of hundreds of tails takes lots of computation. You should select the < 50 comets you really want to observe and only add or update elements for those. The situation has been corrected in V0.13.1.

(3) TOO MANY DEEP-SKY OBJECTS (V0.13.3 only)

Version 0.13.3 brought some more nebulae catalogs. Unfortunately visibility function was not well-balanced however, and some users are unhappy about too many (!) objects. You can simply replace the respective files in the program directory (win64: C:\Program Files\Stellarium\nebulae\default) by empty files. V0.14 will provide better visibility balance and catalog selection options.


Some users reported mouse cursor is invisible. Make sure to switch off mouse trails to avoid this problem.