Everyone like to watch the sky? Ever dreamed about zipping around the universe in a spaceship like Star Trek to explore the unknown and see the beautiful wonders that are sure to exist out there? Do NOT go any where because you can do it only by sitting on in front of your Computer.

Celestia is a real-time 3D space simulation astronomy software designed to let you travel through an extensive universe in three dimensions using OpenGL (Open Graphics Library), at any speed, in any direction and at any time in history. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A ‘point-and-goto’ interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit. It is a perfect software for astronomer, educator, student, and teacher for astronomy purpose. In fact, NASA and ESA have already used Celestia in their educational and for interfacing to trajectory analysis software.

Celestia: 3D space simulation astronomy software

Features of Celestia:

  • Celestia displays the Hipparcos Catalogue (HIP) of almost 120,000 stars.
  • Celestia uses the very accurate VSOP87 theory of planetary orbits to provide a Solar and lunar eclipse finder and to display the orbital paths of planets (including extrasolar planets), dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, artificial satellites, and spacecraft.
  • The user can vary the number of stars that are visible on the screen and have them drawn in different styles.
  • Celestia users can travel/fly through the Celestia universe using simple keyboard controls, at any speed from 0.001m/s to millions of light years/s.
  • The time simulated by Celestia can be set at any point in the future or past, although planetary orbits are only accurate within a few thousand years of the present day, and date arithmetic overflows at the year 5874774.
  • The names and positions of multitudes of objects in space can be displayed, from galaxies, star clusters, nebula, constellations and stars to planets, moons, asteroids, comets and artificial satellites, as well as the names and locations of cities, craters, observatories, valleys, landing sites, continents, mountains, seas and other surface features.
  • Celestia displays such features as detailed atmospheres on planets and moons, planet shine on orbiting satellites, sunsets and sunrises, moving clouds, planetary rings, eclipse and ring shadows, constellation lines, borders and illustrations, night-side lights, detailed surface textures, specular reflections off water and ice, nebula gases and star flares.
  • Information about the objects that Celestia draws can also be displayed: the radius, the distance, length of the sidereal day and average temperature of the planets are shown and the distance, luminosity relative to the sun, spectral class, surface temperature and radius of stars are indicated.
  • Graphic screen-shots and movies can be captured in classic or HD resolutions (up to 1920×1080) on Windows and Linux platforms.
  • Celestia’s support for game pads and joysticks is relatively limited, employing many keyboard shortcuts instead.

This application certainly is impressive and very entertaining if you want to explore the universe. And what makes Celestia even more interesting is that the software is expandable with new objects and there are hundreds of third-party, user-created add-ons available for installation, both fictional and realistic.

Download & Learn more about this 3D space simulation software @ Celestia Homepage (Supports Linux (x86), Windows and Mac OS X).

Note: For a list of quick tips on controls for mouse and keyboard: goto Help > Controls.