The world may be celebrating 40 years of the Moon landings but there’s more to the universe than Lunar landscapes. Celestia is a great application which gives you a superb overview of the bigger picture out there by allowing you to explore the universe from the comfort of your armchair. It’s a great learning tool for kids and even adults will find themselves curiously exploring the final frontier.
Celestia works by allowing you to navigate your way around the universe using your mouse and when you discover something of interest, you can zoom in and out.
You can zoom out far enough to see the entire Milky Way. Obviously, there’s no A to Z map of finding your way around Outer Space and so fortunately Celestia has a ‘Go To Object‘ tool found under the ‘Location‘ bar. Type the name of the planet or solar constellation you want to see and Celestia magically whisks you there a la Google Earth. I’d recommend running the demo for starters (found in Celestial and ‘Run Demo‘) because it takes you on a quick guided tour of everything Celestia can do.
There are a few drawbacks to Celestia though. It would have been useful to have annotation of the solar system so that you can see which planets you’re approaching or looking as it does get rather confusing browsing through the stars. Also, the level of detail of planet surfaces is a bit disappointing. However, the good news is that the basic download is only the tip of the iceberg. Detail can be vastly expanded using the Celestia Motherlode website which is a collection of extensions from planet detail to space craft which can be downloaded including this Apollo 11 module.