Find Comet Lulin in Stellarium

I am starting to get quite excited about having Comet Lulin to image, so if your like me and want to know how to plan your observing or astrophotography then you’ll need to know how to find Comet Lullin in the sky.

I began using an old version of Starry Night Pro, but that would not show me the comet. So I decided to install Stellarium again on my laptop. By default Comet Lulin is also not in Steallarium, but I did find a way to map it into Stellarium.

Install Stellarium, if you have not already

Located the ssystem.ini file in the data folder where you installed Stellarium

Edit the file and place the following text at the end of the file:

name = Lulin
parent = Sun
radius = 1000
oblateness = 0.0
halo = true
color = 1.0,1.0,1.0
tex_halo = star16x16.png
tex_map = nomap.png
coord_func = comet_orbit
orbit_TimeAtPericenter = 2454842.1414
orbit_PericenterDistance = 1.212289
orbit_Eccentricity = 0.999987
orbit_ArgOfPericenter = 136.8614
orbit_AscendingNode = 338.5353
orbit_Inclination = 178.3730
lighting = false
albedo = 1
sidereal_period =

Then save the file and re-start Stellarium

Use the search facility in Stellarium to locate the Comet Lulin

Lulin is also in the Meade Autostar database as C/2007 N3 Lulin, so if you are outside already it should GoTo it, otherwise just connect your telescope to a computer and do an update within the Autostar program.


  • merrell

    hi daniel
    thank you so much for lulin instructions for stellarium
    where can I find other data like this for more comets, lunar and sun eclipses and astroids?
    this is great

    have a great day
    God bless

    ps: I am 68 yrs old and play keyboard too,and my dogs loves it

  • Chris Gray

    Nice work. 🙂 Unfortunately for me I’m in the southern hemisphere so I miss it at it’s closest point, although I’ll hopefully still be able to spot it that night.

    Oh and the file is called ssystem.ini (you dropped the third s) and in Linux can be found in “/usr/share/stellarium” for those unsure.

  • Lorien


    Thanks for posting this. I never knew it was so easy to add stuff to Stellarium.

    Awesome tip!

  • Zimmy

    Brilliant, thank you very much. I live in the Wirral, just hope we get a cloudless sky over the next few days.

  • Jeff

    I’m trying to add this text to Stellarium for Mac’s plist file. No luck so far – it keeps crashing at startup. Any advice?

  • Daniel

    At the moment the weather in the East of England looks terrible over the next few days, so I may miss it.

    Also I have a bad back at the moment so lifting the 10″ LX200 onto the tripod is a no no at the moment, so if I do get any clear skies, then binoculars will be used.

    Sorry I don’t know anything about Mac’s.

  • NIC

    I am in the Southern Hemisphere in Santiago de Chile and would like to know in which direction I have to look, ie north, south, east or west apart from up!

  • Claude


    I tried to edit the ssystem.ini file as indicated (with Notepad), but I could not restart the program afterward. If I delete the change and restore the file, the program restart normally.

    I am using Stellarium 0.6.2 Is it possible that this edition do not work on all version?

  • Carol

    Last night, the 24th, a super clear sky and I had so many people given me wrong comet directions that I spent too much time looking for it and not enough time seeing it. Tonight, I hope, and it’s clear enough, that I get to see it. Wish me luck. I did enough research to find my way around and I believe I’ll see it. With love Roda Monroe

  • Daniel

    Claude: try and download the latest version of Stellarium then try again, and make sure there are no rogue spaces or carriage returns at the end of the file.

    See if that works, the latest version worked ok for me.

  • Gerhard

    Hi, please provide text for finding Lulin in Stellarium for Southern Hemisphere.

    Have not been able to find it, guess I’m looking in the wrong place.

  • john k

    IDaniel, I have typed in the details correctly but when I try to save says the path and file name are not correcct,,,it looks correct to me!!

    tnx for your time, John

  • JS

    Finally the sky has cleared after several days (nights) of clouds/rain/snow in Eastern Washington. So, yes, I got to see the comet tonight (basic 10×50 binoculars were good enough) just to the “left” of Leo’s Regulus — it seems the comet is developing a well-defined tail now… or is it my imagination?
    Anyway, THANK YOU for this patch of script for Lulin trajectory. It works great — Stellarium 0.10.1 shows the comet at the correct location.

  • Daniel

    John K: I would not type it in but just copy and paste the code in to the ssystem.ini file.

    JS: Well done, I hope to see it tonight if it clears, after I have come back from the IAS Meeting in Cambridge.

  • Brandon

    Wow, that was super cool and easy to update in Stellarium. I had similar data for XEphem, running on a slow computer, but Stellarium was not working well there. I was going back and forth, trying to find stars in Stellarium. 😛

    I think, MAYBE I saw this now. 10×50 binoculars.

  • Daniel

    I also saw it last night thanks to Stellarium. I used 15×70 Binoculars, it appeared just as a hazy area. Hopefully tonight the skies will be clear and I will try some imaging via the scope or using a DSLR and a 300mm lens.

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