What do we do with questions that can be answered easily by opening Stellarium or other similar software, such as

and that basically ask "what [star/planet] was in the [N/E/S/W part of the sky] at [date] in [location]?".

The answer to these questions also follows a common pattern: "Using in-the-sky.org/Stellarium/... with the data you provided, this ought to

The questions following this format are potentially infinite, but the answers to these questions will most likely never be of direct use to anyone other than the OP. As a result, I don't think that having a plethora of questions following this pattern is a good look for the site.

Instead, answers to a question such as "How can I determine what star I saw" will bring an answer to all the questions in the above format, and can be useful for many people.

Should questions that follow this pattern be marked as duplicates of another question (which one)? Should they be considered off-topic? Should each one be answered individually?

  • $\begingroup$ It's a good question and possibly a good idea! I think you are thinking of something like this wiki answer to the question Where can I find/visualize planets/stars/moons/etc positions? Do you think answers there are sufficient, or would a new community wiki answer for a the question "What star did I see?" be helpful? If so, could it be placed there, or might it need a new question? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 14, 2020 at 20:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh That wiki answer is pretty much what I had in mind. If the "what star did I see" questions are linked to that answer, that should probably be enough, I guess $\endgroup$
    – usernumber
    Jan 15, 2020 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


Is “what star did I see?” on topic?

Yes, it is absolutely on-topic!

...potentially infinite... plethora of questions following this pattern

This is not happening.

These questions are infrequent and have all kinds of answers, some are stars, some are planets, some are satellites or rocket bodies, some are aircraft, balloons, high-flying drones.

As long as the question is asked in good-faith, reasonably well written or is improved after a helpful, positive request is made in comments, then there are no Stack Exchange reasons to close them.

There are situations when the high frequency of a certain kind of identification request question puts a community under stress, but nothing like that is happening here, not even close.

Instead, its an opportunity to bring in new users, and the process of writing the question is potentially beneficial to the author and other readers of the answer because they are not all based on "Using in-the-sky.org/Stellarium/..." and even for those answers that are they often contain extra information or techniques that may be unique.

One special situation deserves separate consideration; we might some day need a notice about, or at least a consensus how to deal with billionaire space ventures since there are going to be regular launches of groups of 60 satellites each that will start out traveling in a line, but we're not there yet.


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