Celestia Splash


Celestia High Definition Icon

Celestia is a 3D astronomy program created by Chris Laurel. The program is based on the Hipparcos Catalogue (HIP) and allows users to travel through an extensive universe, modeled after reality, at any speed, in any direction, and at any time in history. Celestia displays and interacts with objects ranging in scale from small spacecraft to entire galaxies in three dimensions using OpenGL, from perspectives which would not be possible from a classic planetarium or other ground-based display.

NASA and ESA have used Celestia in their educational and outreach programs, as well as for interfacing to trajectory analysis software.

Celestia is available for AmigaOS 4, Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. Celestia is free software released under the GNU General Public License.

There are three graphical front-ends available: GLUT, GTK+ or Qt.


Celestia Low Definition Icon


Celestia Vector Icon

Celestia's final update came in 2011. Since then, some of its development team have gone to work on Celestia.sci, a cosmological visualizer.

In late 2016, the official Celestia forums were restored,and development of update 1.7.0 began.

Functions Edit

Celestia displays the Hipparcos Catalogue (HIP) of 118,322 stars. Celestia uses the very accurate VSOP87 theory of planetary orbits. This makes it possible 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.

Using simple keyboard controls, Celestia users can travel/fly through the Celestia universe at any speed from 0.001 m/s to millions of light years per second. Viewpoints can be set to look forward, backward, or at any angle to the direction of travel. Controls allow users to orbit stars, planets, moons, and other space objects, track space objects such as spacecraft, asteroids, and comets as they fly by, or travel to and/or fly through nebulae and irregular, elliptical, and spiral galaxies (over 10,000 galaxies included).

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 5,874,774.

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 (of cities), 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, distance, length of the sidereal day, and average blackbody temperature of the planets are shown, and the distance, luminosity relative to the sun, spectral class, surface temperature, and radius of stars are indicated (the radii of stars in Celestia are sometimes inaccurate, so some addons might help and I suggest that you don't use Celestia as a reference.)

The user can change Celestia's field of view from as wide as 120 degrees to a highly magnifying 3.4 seconds of arc, while dividing the window into multiple panes, in order to observe several objects at the same time and including light time delay if desired.

Graphic screen-shots and movies can be captured in classic or HD resolutions (up to 1920x1080) on Windows and Linux platforms.

Celestia's support for gamepads and joysticks is relatively limited, employing many keyboard shortcuts instead.

Celestia can be extended with new objects, and there are hundreds of third-party, user-created add-ons available for installation, both fictional and realistic. The extension mechanism uses Lua as its built-in scripting language. Educational lessons and computer lesson plans are available.

Download Edit

Newest Version: Celestia 1.6.1

Please select the appropriate Celestia 1.6.1 package for your computer from the list below. 

Downloads are all hosted by SourceForge, meaning you are required to select a download server after clicking on the link. As a result, right-clicking on a link and selecting "Save as..." may not work as expected.

  • Windows
  • The Windows package of Celestia is a self-extracting archive; download it to your computer and then run it. (Main Article: Windows System Celestia)
  • Mac OS X
  • The Mac OS X package is a disk image. Download it to your computer, double click it, and follow the instructions in the README.
  • Linux_(x86)_Version_1.5.1
  • If you are running Linux, you should check first with your distribution; there is a good chance that the package is available to you in the format best suited to your installation. A pre-compiled 32-bit version is provided in the autopackage format. It should run on any distribution that has OpenGL and GTK+ 2.6. (Main Article: Linux System Celestia)

Source Code Edit

Content above has copy from the Celestia Offical Website.