About: Celestia is an OpenGL-based 3D space simulation that lets you travel through the solar system, to the stars, and even beyond the galaxy.
  Fossies Dox: Celestia-  ("unofficial" and yet experimental doxygen-generated source code documentation)  

Celestia Documentation

Some Fossies usage hints in advance:

  1. To see the Doxygen generated documentation please click on one of the items in the steelblue colored "quick index" bar above or use the side panel at the left which displays a hierarchical tree-like index structure and is adjustable in width.
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  •                             Celestia                                *
  •                                                                     *
  • A real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in *
  • three dimensions. *
  •                                                                     *
  • Copyright (c) 2001-2020, Celestia Development Team *
  •                                                                     *



License Installing in Unix and Linux Getting Started Mouse, Keyboard & Joystick Controls Star & Solar System Browser Selecting Objects by Name Known Issues User Modifiable Elements Celestia Resources Contributions Acknowledgements


This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details, which you should have received along with this program (filename: COPYING). If not, request a copy from: Free Software Foundation, Inc. 59 Temple Place - Suite 330 Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA


Type "./configure --help" for a list of options. The basic commands are shown below. For more detailed information, refer to the INSTALL file.

The GTK version is built with... ./configure --with-gtk make make install

The KDE3 version is built with... ./configure --with-kde make make install

Note: some systems may require configure to be executed with --with-qt-includes=/usr/include/qt3

The Gnome version is built with... ./configure --with-gnome make make install

If all else fails, try the gui-less version with... ./configure --with-glut make make install


Celestia will start up in a window, and if everything is working correctly, you'll see Earth in front of a field of stars. Displayed on-screen, is some information about your target (Earth), your speed, and the current time (Universal Time, so it'll probably be a few hours off from your computer's clock).

Right drag the mouse to orbit Earth and you might see the Moon and some familiar constellations. Left dragging the mouse changes your orientation also, but the camera rotates about its center instead of rotating around Earth. Rolling the mouse wheel will change your distance to Earth--you can move light years away, then roll the wheel in the opposite direction to get back to your starting location. If your mouse lacks a wheel, you can use the Home and End keys instead.

When running Celestia, you will usually have some object selected. Currently, it's Earth, but it could also be a star, moon, spacecraft, galaxy, or some other object. The simplest way to select an object is to click on it. Try clicking on a star to select it. The information about Earth is replaced with some details about the star. Press G (or use the Navigation menu), and you'll zoom through space toward the selected star. If you press G again, you'll approach the star even closer.

Press H to select our Sun, and then G to go back to our Sun. Right click on the sun to bring up a menu of planets and other objects in the solar system. After selecting a planet from the menu, hit G again to travel toward it. Once there, hold down the right mouse button and drag to orbit the planet.

The Tour Guide is a list of some of the more interesting objects you can visit in Celestia. Select the Tour Guide option in the Navigation menu to display the Tour Guide window. Choose a destination from the list, click the Goto button, and you're off.

That covers the very basics. For a more in-depth look at Celestia and the controls available to you, download the "Celestia User's Guide" (written by Frank Gregorio), available in several languages, from: https://celestia.space/guides.html This web page also includes links to the Celestia README file translated into Japanese.


See the included file: controls.txt OR use the Help menu to display the Controls list.


The Navigation menu contains 'Solar System Browser' and 'Star Browser' options.


By default, the Star Browser window displays a table of the 100 nearest stars, along with their Distance, Apparent and Absolute Magnitude, and Type. Clicking on the column headers will sort the stars. The table is not continuously updated, so if you travel to another star, you should press the Refresh button to update the table for your current position. The radio buttons beneath the table let you switch between viewing a list of Nearest, Brightest, or 'With planets' stars. As with the solar system browser, clicking on any star name in the table will select it. Use this feature along with the Center and Go To buttons to tour the stars visible from any night sky in the galaxy.


The Solar System Browser displays a window with a tree view of all the objects in the nearest solar system (if there is one within a light year of your current position.) Clicking on the name of any object in the window will select it. You can then use the Center or Go To buttons to display that object in the main Celestia window.


Celestia provides several ways to select an object by name...

  1. Choose 'Select Object' from the Navigation menu, type in the object name, and click OK.

  2. Press Enter, type in the entire object name, and press Enter again.

  3. Press Enter, type in the first few characters of the object name, press the Tab key to move through the displayed listing until the object is highlighted, then press Enter again.

You can use common names, Bayer designations or catalog numbers for stars. Celestia currently supports the HIP, HD and SAO catalogs. Catalog numbers must be entered with a space between the prefix and the catalog number.


For up-to-the-minute answers to some common problems encountered when running Celestia, please view either the FAQ in the Help menu or take a look at the "Celestia User's FAQ" located on the Celestia User's Forum: https://celestia.space/forum/


You can modify how Celestia starts up each time you run it, by defining your own start-up settings. Simply open the file "start.cel" in a plain text editor and follow the in-file instructions. Also, view the celestia.cfg file in a plain text editor to see additional settings.

Celestia allows you to easily add real, hypothetical, or fictional objects by creating new catalog files. It is not recommended that you alter the built-in data files; nearly all desired modifications and additions can be made by placing new catalog files in Celestia's extras folders. There are three types of catalog files:

  • ssc (solar system catalog: planets, moons, spacecraft, etc.)
  • stc (star catalog)
  • dsc (deep sky catalog: galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae) All three types of catalog file are text files that can be updated with your favorite text editing program.


Celestia Web Site: https://celestia.space/

Celestia User Forums: https://celestia.space/forum/

Selden's List of Resources for Celestia: https://www.classe.cornell.edu/~seb/celestia/

Celestia WikiBook: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Celestia

Celestial Matters Website and Forums: http://www.celestialmatters.org/ http://forum.celestialmatters.org/

Celestia Motherlode: http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/

Celestia Source Code (GitHub.com): https://github.com/CelestiaProject/Celestia

Celestia Bug Tracking (GitHub.com): https://github.com/CelestiaProject/Celestia/issues

Celestia Feature Requests (GitHub.com): https://github.com/CelestiaProject/Celestia/issues

Celestia Discord Server: https://discordapp.com/invite/WEWDcJh

Celestia Subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/Celestiasoftware/

Celestia Archive Repository: https://github.com/Anthony-B-Russo10/Celestia-Archive



Chris Laurel claurel@gmail.com Clint Weisbrod cweisbrod@cogeco.ca Fridger Schrempp t00fri@mail.desy.de Bob Ippolito bob@redivi.com Christophe Teyssier chris@teyssier.org Hank Ramsey hramsey@users.sourceforge.net Grant Hutchison grant.celestia@xemaps.com Pat Suwalski pat@suwalski.net Toti Da Woon Jung dirkpitt2050@users.sf.net Vincent Giangiulio vince.gian@free.fr Andrew Tribick Hleb Valoshka Li Linfeng


Deon Ramsey ........... Original GTK1 interface Christopher Andre ..... Eclipse Finder Colin Walters ......... Endianness fixes Peter Chapman ......... Orbit path rendering changes James Holmes .......... Harald Schmidt ........ Lua scripting enhancements, bug fixes Nils Larsson .......... Various enhancements and bug fixes


Frank Gregorio ........ Celestia User's Guide Hitoshi Suzuki ........ Japanese README translation Christophe Teyssier ... DocBook and HTML conversion of User's Guide Diego Rodriguez ....... Acrobat conversion of User's Guide Don Goyette ........... CEL Scripting Guide Harald Schmidt ........ Celx/Lua Scripting Guide

Scientific Data Base

Grant Hutchison

Supplied the correct orientations for the major planets, their moons, and a
number of asteroids and also worked on these data files:
Solarsys.ssc, nearstars.stc, extrasolar.ssc, extrasolar.stc, earth_locs.ssc

Fridger Schrempp

Complete NGC/IC galaxy database + local group galaxies (galaxies.dsc)

Data base on globular clusters (globulars.dsc)

Data base on visual and spectroscopic binaries (visualbins.stc, 




Andrew Tribick

Significant update of the star.dat base based on new HIP Reduction of the
Raw data, Floor van Leeuwen, 2007.

CHARM2 stellar radii (charm2.stc)

Note on content from JPL

Some content in Celestia, including texture maps and models, comes from JPL websites. That content is subject to the JPL Image Use Policy, a copy of which appears below (as captured on 2020-July-13). The latest version of this policy can be found at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/imagepolicy/. Also refer to https://space.jpl.nasa.gov/faq.html for clarity on how textures/models are covered.

JPL Image Use Policy

Unless otherwise noted, images and video on JPL public web sites (public

sites ending with a jpl.nasa.gov address) may be used for any purpose

without prior permission, subject to the special cases noted below.

Publishers who wish to have authorization may print this page and

retain it for their records; JPL does not issue image permissions on an

image by image basis.

By electing to download the material from this web site the user agrees:

1. that Caltech makes no representations or warranties with respect to

ownership of copyrights in the images, and does not represent others who

may claim to be authors or owners of copyright of any of the images, and

makes no warranties as to the quality of the images. Caltech shall not be

responsible for any loss or expenses resulting from the use of the images,

and you release and hold Caltech harmless from all liability arising from

such use.

2. to use a credit line in connection with images. Unless otherwise noted

in the caption information for an image, the credit line should be

"Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech."

3. that the endorsement of any product or service by Caltech, JPL or NASA

must not be claimed or implied.

Special Cases:

* Prior written approval must be obtained to use the NASA insignia logo

(the blue "meatball" insignia), the NASA logotype (the red "worm" logo)

and the NASA seal. These images may not be used by persons who are not

NASA employees or on products (including Web pages) that are not NASA

sponsored. In addition, no image may be used to explicitly or implicitly

suggest endorsement by NASA, JPL or Caltech of commercial goods or

services. Requests to use NASA logos may be directed to Bert Ulrich, Public

Services Division, NASA Headquarters, Code POS, Washington, DC 20546,

telephone (202) 358-1713, fax (202) 358-4331, email bert.ulrich@hq.nasa.gov.

* Prior written approval must be obtained to use the JPL logo (stylized JPL

letters in red or other colors). Requests to use the JPL logo may be

directed to the Institutional Communications Office, email


* If an image includes an identifiable person, using the image for

commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy or publicity,

and permission should be obtained from the person. NASA and JPL generally do

not permit likenesses of current employees to appear on commercial products.

For more information, consult the NASA and JPL points of contact listed above.

* JPL/Caltech contractors and vendors who wish to use JPL images in

advertising or public relation materials should direct requests to the

Institutional Communications Office, email instcomm@jpl.nasa.gov.

* Some image and video materials on JPL public web sites are owned by

organizations other than JPL or NASA. These owners have agreed to make their

images and video available for journalistic, educational and personal uses,

but restrictions are placed on commercial uses. To obtain permission for

commercial use, contact the copyright owner listed in each image caption.

Ownership of images and video by parties other than JPL and NASA is noted in

the caption material with each image.

Texture maps

Most of the planet maps are from David Seal's site:


A few of these maps were modified by me, with fictional terrain added to fill in gaps. The model of the Galileo spacecraft is also from David Seal's site (though it was converted from Inventor to 3DS format.)

The Mars, Neptune, and Uranus textures and Mars bump maps are all from James

Hastings-Trew's collection. His maps may be found here: http://gw.marketingden.com/planets/planets.html

Grant Hutchison

Saturn's rings were built by Grant Hutchison from Cassini imaging, with transparency information derived from stellar transit data obtained from: http://pds-rings.arc.nasa.gov/ringocc/ringocc.html

The Eros map is a shaded relief generated from the NEAR laser rangefinder shape model at: http://pdssbn.astro.umd.edu/NEARdb/nlr/#shape

Jens Meyer

Dione and Rhea are USGS maps colored and modified by Jens Meyer.

The Moon map is based on data from PDS Map-A-Planet at http://pdsmaps.wr.usgs.gov/maps.html with colors from Mark Robinson at http://www.earth.northwestern.edu/research/robinson/MOON/clem_color.html.

Fridger Schrempp

'Available data' Pluto and Charon textures using maps created by Marc Buie at Lowell Observatory. Buie's maps were generated from photometric data gathered during six years of mutual occultations of Pluto and Charon.

Titan's cloud texture in natural colors and its surface map at near-infrared wavelength. They are based on resources available from the imaging site (Ciclops) of the Cassini mission

The Phoebe base texture was created from the cylindrical map published by the Cassini imaging team (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA07775)

The Tethys textures are based on the Oct 2008 Ciclops map (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA11116)

The Iapetus texture was created from the Oct 2008 Ciclops map (http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA11116)

The Lunar topography and bump maps, using Clementine laser altimeter data, merged in the polar regions with topographic data from Clementine 750 nm oblique and nadir images (ftp://ftpflag.wr.usgs.gov/dist/pigpen/moon/usgs/topo/global/)

The Mercury map was created from a combination of Mariner 10 imaging with recent MESSENGER WAC images from the first two flybys, as collected and reprojected by Steve Albers: See http://laps.noaa.gov/albers/sos/sos.html.

Phil Stooke

Proteus, Janus, Prometheus and Epimetheus maps are from Phil Stooke.

The Ida and Gaspra photomosaic maps are by Phil Stooke.

Venus's clouds and the textures for Ganymede, Callisto and Saturn are from

Björn Jónsson. His site at http://www.mmedia.is/~bjj/ is an excellent resource for solar system rendering.

Venus's surface is a copyright-free NASA image, prepared from Magellan radar

data. The original is available at http://www.solarviews.com/cap/venus/venmap.htm

The Earth texture was created by NASA using data from the MODIS instrument

aboard the Terra satellite. Further information is available from: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/BlueMarble/

Steve Albers

The Io and Europa maps are by Steve Albers. His planetary maps are at: http://laps.noaa.gov/albers/sos/sos.html

The textures for the Uranian satellites were created by Ivan Rivera from JPL

data. His Celestia page is: http://bruckner.homelinux.net/celestia.html

The Hyperion map is a photomosaic assembled by Phil Stooke and

colored by Jens Meyer.

Amalthea is a shaded relief map by Phil Stooke, colored by Wm. Robert Johnston

(http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/spaceart/cylmaps.html), and further modified by Jens Meyer and Grant Hutchison.

The asteroid.jpg texture was created by Paul Roberts.

The textures for the five classes of extrasolar giant planet were created by

Andrew Tribick.


The map of Enceladus is derived from the December 2008 CICLOPS map: http://ciclops.org/view/5447/Map_of_Enceladus_December_2008

3D Models

Models of Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Odyssey were created by Shrox:


They are included under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The Cassini and Huygens models are by Jack Higgins:


The 3D model of ISS is a deconstruction of Andrew Farnaby's

complete ISS model with textures by Bob Hundley. The model represents the ISS as of June 2008 and is a modification of the model that can be found here: http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/show_addon_details.php?addon_id=1199 ISS model of June 2008 (with Kibo) by krisci3 (modified and converted in order to work with JPG by Ulrich Dickmann, a.k.a. Adirondack)

3D asteroid models of Toutatis, Kleopatra, Geographos, 1998 KY26, Bacchus,

Castalia and Golevka are courtesy of Scott Hudson, Washington State University. His site is: http://www.eecs.wsu.edu/~hudson/Research/Asteroids/models.html On August 20, 2020, Scott Hudson waived the commercial use restrictions on these models, permitting unrestricted use of them.

3D models of Phobos, Deimos, Amalthea, Janus, Epimetheus, Prometheus, Pandora,

Hyperion, Larissa, Proteus, Vesta, Ida, Gaspra and Halley are derived from Phil Stooke's Cartography of Non-Spherical Worlds at: http://publish.uwo.ca/~pjstooke/plancart.htm and optical shape model dataset at: http://pdssbn.astro.umd.edu/SBNast/holdings/EAR-A-5-DDR-STOOKE-SHAPE-MODELS- V1.0.html

The 3D model of Eros was prepared from the NEAR laser rangefinder shape model

at: http://pdssbn.astro.umd.edu/NEARdb/nlr/#shape

The Phoebe mesh was designed by Jerry Gardner aka Jestr, jestr@ntlworld.com,

based on Phoebe's bumpy topography display from Cassini, http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA06070


This software is based in part on the work of the Independent JPEG Group.

Some versions of Celestia may use the SPICE system for spacecraft and

planetary information, developed by Caltech/JPL under contract to NASA.

Many cylindrical projections of photographs were performed by Fridger

Schrempp with Matthew Arcus 'mmps' software, http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~arcus/mmps/

The lower resolution textures were all converted from their higher resolution

versions using Gimp.

The star database (stars.dat) was derived from the ESA's HIPPARCOS data set.

Constellation boundaries are drawn from Davenhall & Leggett's "Catalogue of

Constellation Boundary Data": http://cdsweb.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/ftp-index?/ftp/cats/VI/49

Other work

Selden Ball deserves a special mention for suffering more prerelease versions

finding more bugs, and giving more feedback than anyone else.

Christophe Campos aka ElChristou created the splash screen for Celestia.

The MacOS X icon was designed by Chris Alford: http://www.chrisalford.com/

The txf font format used by Celestia was devised by Mark Kilgard.


A very big thank you for creating Celestia goes to Chris Laurel who started this program in the year 2001. claurel@gmail.com https://celestia.space/

Special thanks go to all Celestia users who submit bug reports, suggestions, and fixes. Celestia wouldn't be the program it is today, without their help.

The Celestia Development Team