Celestia – Journey Through the 3D Universe

Celestia is a virtual planetarium. Many of us looked with interest into the night starry sky and saw many stars that we wanted to see closer. In the recent past, this desire could only be realized with the help of a telescope.

Nowadays, astronomical programs have been created for this purpose for viewing the starry sky from your computer. One of such programs is the virtual planetarium of the Universe – the Celestia program.

The Celestia program displays both individual planets and stars, and galaxies, allowing you to freely move through the expanses of the Universe. In the program, you can see space objects not only of the solar system, but also about 120 thousand stars, the trajectories of which are known to astronomers.

All space objects are made in the program in three-dimensional form. With beautiful realistic graphics, you can see the beauty of the universe that you will not see when looking at the starry sky from Earth. Traveling through space with the help of the Celestia program, you can speed up or slow down time or reverse time.

The Celestia program can be useful not only for astronomy lovers, but it can also be used for educational purposes. The 3D universe is very beautiful and interesting. I think it will be interesting for many to see and find out what familiar and unfamiliar space objects look like.

For example, I was interested to know what, for example, the star Betelgeuse looks like. The heroes of the famous novel by Pierre Boulle “The Planet of the Apes” landed on the planet Sorora, the Betelgeuse star system, and not on Earth, as in the famous 1968 film of the same name (a remake of this film was released in 2001) and in subsequent sequels of this film (a total of 7 films were released). , most recently Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011).

The free program Celestia has a Russian interface. There are versions of the program for operating systems Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

You can also easily find a portable version of this program on the Internet.

After starting the program, the program opens in windowed mode with a view of the Earth from space.

Celestia Settings

The top right corner displays the current time and date. Brief reference data about the space object (distance to the object, its radius, apparent diameter and phase angle) are displayed in the upper left corner of the program. The lower left corner shows the speed of movement in space (now it is equal to zero). In the lower right corner, information about the actions in the program is displayed (now this is the observation of the planet Earth).

When you press the “Shift” button + left-click + move the mouse back or forward, the object will increase or decrease. To switch the program to full screen mode, click in the menu “View” => “Screen mode …”.

In the Screen Mode window, you can select the appropriate screen resolution for your monitor. In full screen mode, the menu bar will not be visible, which is not very convenient. The menu bar will only appear when you hover your mouse over the top edge of the monitor screen. Therefore, it is more convenient to maximize the program window in the traditional way for the operating system.

In the menu “View” => “Resolution of textures” you can change the quality settings for displaying objects. Higher settings affect the performance of the computer.

You can choose the optimal parameters for your computer empirically by changing the program settings. In the “View” menu, you can also configure other display options (how the stars will look, ambient light parameters, more or less stars will be displayed in the program).

In the menu “View” => “View settings …”, in the Settings window, by checking the boxes in the corresponding checkboxes, you can enable or disable the display of the appearance of space objects.

Navigating the 3D Universe in Celestia

In the menu “Navigation” => “Catalogue of the solar system …” a window appears with the objects of the solar system. If you are in another star system, then in this window there will be objects located near the specific star (if any) that you will be near.

Select the desired object, and then click on the “Go” button. In this case, you are moving towards the planet Saturn. By rotating the mouse wheel forward or backward, you can bring a celestial object closer to you or move it away from you. You can move around the space object in different directions by moving the mouse and simultaneously pressing the right mouse button.

To rotate around the selected object, simultaneously press the “Shift” + button on the keyboard and the arrows, the rotation will occur in the corresponding direction (you can click on two arrows at the same time).

When hovering the mouse cursor over an object, clicking on it with the left mouse button you will get help information, and by right-clicking in the context menu, you will see the name of the object and you can go to this object. If you click on the “Information” item, then the program will send you to the site for background information about this object.

When you go to the menu “Navigation” => “Catalog of Stars …” you can select a star from the list in the “Catalog of Stars” window, and after clicking on the “Go” button, you will move to this star.

By moving the slider along the axis, you can adjust the number of stars in this list. By activating the corresponding item, you can change the criteria for searching for stars (“Nearest”, “Brightest”, “With planets”). Highlight the star, and then click on the “Go” button.

This is how one of the largest stars, the red supergiant Betelgeuse, located in the constellation Orion, looks like.

In order to go to an object within the solar system, you need to click on the “Go to object …” item in the “Navigation” menu with the mouse. In the “Select object” window, enter the name of the star – “Sun” (Sol), and then click on the “OK” button. Only after that it will be possible to move within the solar system.

If you enter the name of an object in the solar system while outside of it, then the movement will not occur. First you will need to move to the Sun. After moving to the solar system, enter the name of the planet in the “Go to object” window, for example, “Neptune” and the program will move us to this planet.

If you want to save the image to your computer as a graphic file (JPG and PNG formats are supported), then press the F10 button on the keyboard (or from the File menu => Save Image …). In the Explorer window, select the format and location where you want to save the image and click on the “Save” button.

In order for the background information to be missing from the image, you will simply need to click on the information and it will disappear. After the image is saved, you will be able to view it using the operating system without using the Celestia program.

With the help of the program, you can record video files in the “AVI” format. To do this, in the “File” menu, select the “Save video …” item. In the “Save As” window, choose a location to save. Give the video file a name, select the video resolution, and then click on the “Save” button.

In the next “Video Compression” window, in the “Compressor” section, “Full frames (no compression)” is selected by default. If you leave this item unchanged, the video file size will be very large.

Therefore, for video compression, it will be better to choose one of the proposed codecs. After that, click on the “OK” button.

In the program window, the video size you selected will be marked with a red frame. To start recording video, press the “F11” button on the keyboard, and to end the recording, press the “F12” button.

There are a large number of commands to control the program. To get acquainted with them, go to the “Help” menu, click on the “Program Management” item, and in the “Program Management” window, get acquainted with the commands.

There are quite a few different commands here, and mastering them will take some time. The time spent on this, in my opinion, will not be wasted.

A large number of add-ons have been created for the Celestia program, which allow you to add new objects (both real and fictional) to the program. The size of add-ons is many times greater than the distribution of the program itself.

On the official Russian-language forum (https://celestia.space/ru/forum/viewforum.php?f=27) dedicated to this program, you can download a special version of the program with additions Celestia Extended Pack.

Article Conclusions

The Celestia program is a beautiful virtual planetarium where you can admire the stars and planets and travel through our Universe. The application provides background information about celestial objects displayed on the computer screen.

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