The Carina Nebula

11 Recommended Open Source Multi-Platform Astronomy Software


CelestiaCelestia is a free 3D astronomy program. Based on the Hipparcos Catalogue, it allows users to display objects ranging in scale from artificial satellites to entire galaxies in three dimensions using OpenGL. Unlike most planetarium software, the user is free to travel about the Universe.

Features include:

  • Displays the Hipparcos Catalogue of almost 120,000 stars
  • 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), moons, asteroids, comets, artificial satellites, and spacecraft
  • Travel/fly through the Celestia universe using simple keyboard controls, at any speed from 0.001m/s to millions of light years
  • 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
  • Displays features such as detailed atmospheres on planets and moons, sunsets and sunrises, moving clouds, planetary rings, eclipse and ring shadows, constellation lines, borders and illustrations, night-side lights, detailed surface textures, 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
  • Extended with new objects and there are hundreds of third-party, user-created add-ons available for installation, both fictional and realistic
Celestia is actively maintained for all 3 platforms.

Developer: Chris Laurel, Clint Weisbrod, Fridger Schrempp, Bob Ippolito, Christophe Teyssier, Hank Ramsey, Grant Hutchison, Pat Suwalski, Toti, Da Woon Jung, Vincent Giangiulio, Andrew Tribick
License: GNU General Public License v2
Written in: C++, Lua

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