• CJTOnline.net Celestia Quick-Start Guide


Celestia is a powerful piece of software that features a complete working model of our solar system as well as many major stars. If you really want to get into it you can modify the standard installation with much more high resolution textures, more detail about satellites, probes and other objects, or even simulations of fictional events from the movies!

  • Shortcut Keys

To start with though, you probably just want to have a look around. The program uses several shortcut keys to make navigation easier, but the main ones you'll probably use are:

  • Alt-Enter - Switches to full-screen and back again. The display is more impressive in full screen, and I also find that the simulation runs more smoothly.
  • Left Mouse Button (LMB) - Selects an object on screen.
  • Hold down LMB - Pans display.
  • Shift-LMB - Zoom in and out (also works with mouse scroll wheel and Home/End keys).
  • Ctrl-LMB - Rotates display.
  • Click Right Mouse Button (RMB) on an object - Brings up menu for that object.
  • Hold down RMB - Rotates the object you've selected (e.g. you can look round the other side of a planet).
  • L - Speeds time up tenfold.
  • K - Slows time down tenfold.
  • J - Reverses time (hitting the key again sets time running forward again - useful for watching/replaying eclipses).
  • Space - Pauses/unpauses time and/or any scripts that you have running.
  • G - Go to an object you've selected.
  • H - Select Sol (useful for finding our solar system again if you've zoomed out a long way).

  • Navigation and Settings

You can navigate around by using the Solar System Browser. The menu at the top of the screen (auto hides and unhides in full-screen mode) has an option called Navigation. From the drop-down menu, select Solar System Browser and you can choose objects to visit. Don't forget to click "Goto" or use the G key to go to them.

You can also change the options about what the simulation shows. You can display or hide things like orbits, galaxies, clouds, etc. From the menu bar at the top of the screen select Render and then View Options. Play around with this feature to see what happens.

  • Scripts

You can also download scripts that do automated tours and I've written two so far which you may freely copy. Either download and save these files to your Celestia directory (default location is C:\Program files\Celestia\) or open them directly from this website and Celestia should recognise them and run them automatically.

  • SolarSysTour.cel - A ten-minute tour of the Solar System, visiting all the planets and looking at interesting features of each one.

  • DaysSeasons.cel - A five-minute presentation showing how day and night vary with the seasons. I use this in conjunction with Stellarium. Stellarium lets me show the apparent progression of Sol across the sky at different times of year, then this Celestia script shows why this happens.

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