When you launch Celestia you find yourself floating 32000km above planet Earth. Information about the selected item is shown on the top left, your current traveling speed is shown on the lower left along with additional info about the selected item if available. On the top right you will see the current date and time setting. You can freeze, accelerate/decelerate time, or even change the date that will also apply the corresponding changes to the position and the rotation of the planets and everything else found on Celestia!
You can either travel as a “spaceship” increasing your speed and accelerating time to get where you want in a matter of minutes/seconds, or travel straight where you want by choosing your destination from a set of useful navigating tools found on the application.
There is a tour guide, a solar system browser (that works for all included solar systems – not only ours), a star browser and a “search for object” tool. See solar and star browsers on the following screens:
Apart from the planets and their moons, you can also find and navigate to man made objects like spaceships or the Hubble telescope seen in the following screenshot:
With Celestia, you can also view comets and their tails, orbits of all moving objects, constellations, far away stars, four different types of grid, labels for almost about anything you can see and much more…
You can see a demo example of the things mentioned on the following video. You’d better try fullscreen and HD
Apart from the large catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and spacecrafts that you will find on Celestia, you can also add more material using add-ons found on the Celestia Motherlode Website! You will be very pleased to find some high quality textures for various planets and even some fictional objects like Darth Vader’s fighter spacecraft!
Celestia is a wonderful way to explore, discover and learn more about our universe and the objects that move, illuminate and float in our cosmos. The three dimensional navigation combined with the limitless travel speed really gives you a god-like feeling, while the large database and the endless virtual boundaries ensure that “I am so small, yet a part of a big wonderful world” kind of thinking. Celestia is a truly wonderful piece of software that I suggest to everyone out there!