Celestia is a stunning program to observe and explore the Solar System and beyond. To help you discover some of its beauty and secrets, Celestia has a short journey already laid out for you. To see it, launch the program as described below, and pull down the [Help] menu. Run the Demo. When done, press the [Esc] key. Note: The [D] key on the keyboard will also launch the demo.
Celestia developers have created a score of other scripted journeys that take you to a variety of fascinating places as a spectator. To access and download them, visit Celestia’s “add-on” repository website at http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/scripts.php. Download the script of your choice and place it in the Celestia main folder located on your C:/ drive, in your Program Files directory or in the MAC or Linux Applications folder. You can then launch it from within Celestia (see later instructions). These scripted trips take anywhere from a minute or less to over an hour. Scripts are also available on many forum member websites.
The ability of Celestia to educate the public about Astronomy has also led to the development of a series of Educational Activities that take Celestia users on extensive, detailed virtual tours of the universe, some lasting several hours. Designed for all general audiences and for students in 7th – 12th grades, these exciting Activities teach you a host of facts about specific astronomical topics, while employing the stunning ability of Celestia to give you control of your own spaceship to explore the universe at your own speed and pace. Unlike a script, you participate in an educational journey not as a spectator but as pilot of your own spacecraft. Each journey includes student worksheets that can be printed, copied and distributed by teachers to students for a grade, and meet all National Educational Standards in Science. Many of the highlights mentioned above are taken from these Educational Journeys.
There are 12 journeys currently. They are available at no charge for download individually as zipped files, from http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/educational.php. They require about 1.4 GB of computer memory. They can also be purchased on a self-installing CD set for a modest fee from the author. Details are on the website.
Celestia is a computer program written in the computer language C++. The code is Open Source, and may be examined and modified by anyone under the terms of the GNU Public License. If you have an interest in joining the volunteer Celestia development team, contact Chris Laurel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to the actual program, Celestia can include many other add-on files (graphics and data). If you choose to download the library of over 500 Celestia add-ons designed to date by its many contributors, they can take up over 8 GB (gigabytes) of disc space. For many people with limited computer memory and/or internet download speed, that is very large. To offer Celestia in a reasonable fashion, therefore, the basic default program is provided for download with a comprehensive but limited set of files, sufficient to experience its capabilities without overtaxing your computer. “Links” (web addresses) to guide you to the additional add-on files available are listed on the web within the User’s forum and the Celestia website. To fully experience what Celestia has to offer, we urge you to seek out and download some of these other add-on files.
Fortunately, volunteers have assembled a central repository for many of them. It is not complete but is growing rapidly. Its web address is:http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/ and should be your first stop for add-ons.
The Celestia Educational Activities mentioned above contain a compilation of some of the best add-ons. As mentioned, the activities can be downloaded individually at no charge, or purchased as a CD set. See the educational website at http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/educational.php for details.
You can find another add-on site here: http://www.ikiru.ch/celestia/index.php?lang=en. In addition, these sites all have excellent add-ons to use:
Jeam.tag's add-on site (In French, but all links work)
Praesepe's Files Texture Foundry
Mike’s add-on list BT’s Celestia add-ons
Celestia basic textures Don’s Celestia Central
Selden’s Resources NASA's Celestia add-on files
Celestial Visions Jack’s spacecraft add-ons
Jim’s Celestia page Maxim’s site
Please note that the above links may be temporary. Websites come and go based on member’s arrangements with hosting servers. However, the above sites are an excellent start. To see links to more of them, visit and browse the forum at http://shatters.net/forum/index.php.
The Celestia default program and package for computers running Microsoft Windows® 98, ME, 2000, XP, or NT is offered as a fully “executable” program. It will install itself onto your computer. The current version is Version 1.4.1, and was released in January 2006. Celestia 1.4.1 is also available for the Macintosh using the OS X operating system, and for Linux. The Windows®, MAC and Linux versions are all available for download at Celestia’s main site located at http://www.shatters.net/celestia/download.html.
Additional customized versions of Celestia can also be found at different websites of their authors. Two such versions will be mentioned below.
Please note that this User’s guide is also generally applicable to Celestia version 1.4.0.
Required Linux Libraries:
Which version of Celestia you choose to install depends upon which desktop environment you have installed. If you do have KDE3, it is recommended that you choose the KDE version of Celestia. For those running GNOME, there is the option of downloading or compiling the GNOME front-end, which includes several integration features with the desktop environment. There is also a simplified GTK+ interface, without GNOME features, for those who prefer the minimum number of outside libraries.
Most distributions package Celestia themselves. The Celestia SourceForge download page also provides a pre-compiled package with the GTK+ front-end.
All versions of Celestia for Linux require that you have OpenGL installed. More and more distributions are shipping with OpenGL, so if you’ve recently installed or re-installed Linux, there’s a good chance that you already have a working OpenGL configuration. In order to build Celestia, you need to have the OpenGL development packages installed. Celestia requires the image libraries libjpeg and libpng to both be present on all up to date Linux installations. In order to build the GNOME/GTK+ front-ends, the gtkglext library is required. All of these libraries and their required development packages should be available from your distribution.
After you’ve successfully built Celestia, you will want to be able to run it with hardware 3D acceleration. To take full advantage of your graphics chip, download the X.org driver provided by the maker of your video chip.