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Viewing the Night Sky with Linux, Part III: Stellarium and Celestia Take You There - page 3

Stellarium's Superior Images

  • September 22, 2008
  • By Akkana Peck

Celestia is another "Oh my gosh, it's so pretty! I wish it didn't crash my machine!" hardware accelerated application.

Celestia's main purpose is to let you fly around the universe. When you first start it, you'll see a lovely view of the Earth (Figure 6). But that's not all -- it's also in 3-D! So grab some red-blue glasses and take a look.

Getting around in Celestia can be a bit tricky. None of the Navigation options let me go to places of my choosing, like the Orion nebula, and many did nothing at all. Moving forward and backward with the mouse wheel was frustratingly slow once outside the solar system, but the only other method mentioned in the manual, dragging with both left and right mouse buttons simultaneously, didn't work.

But there are some presets worth trying in the toolbar, and 1.5.1 adds a Bookmarks menu that includes my favorite view so far: Bookmarks->Calculus' Celestial Phenomena->Io Ganymede Callisto Conjonction (sic; Figure 7). Jupiter moon and moon shadow transits are among my favorite sights in a telescope, and Celestia's view gave an idea why ... though I can't say I've ever seen the real thing with quite that much detail!

Celestia is worth a look. But for beautiful views of the night sky, Stellarium is the application of choice. It's almost like the real thing.

Akkana Peck is a freelance programmer and writer and the author of Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional. �She's also a long-time amateur astronomer.

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