Cosmonium is an open source 3D astronomy and space exploration software

Star gazing can be a relaxing experience, and you don't need telescopes or planetariums to learn more about the mysteries of Space. You can explore galaxies that are far, far away, right from the comfort of your house.

Cosmonium is an open source 3D astronomy and space exploration software

No, I'm not talking about movies and TV Shows. Welcome to Cosmonium, an open source 3D astronomy and space exploration software. It is based on the (now defunct) Celestia project.

Cosmonium default graphics

Cosmonium is a chunky download at a little over 280MB and takes up about 527MB of space to install. You will need a graphics card that supports OpenGL 2.1+. If your computer can handle it, and if you the storage space to spare, you can try the HD and UHD textures. The textures weigh about 1.8GB each to download. I used the default textures that came with the program.

Cosmonium start screen

The program's installation is pretty straight-forward. When you run it, Cosmonium presents a view of the Earth. It displays the parameters of the selected celestial object such as the name, altitude, radius, in the top left corner, while the frame rate is displayed on the opposite edge of the window.

Left-click on a planet or star to select it, double-click centers the view to the selected object. Pan the camera by holding the mouse button and dragging it in the direction you want. Use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

Cosmonium zoom

Let's get back to Earth, shall we? Right-click on the planet and drag to rotate the view.

Cosmonium uses the current time to display the day/night view of the earth, i.e. the side of the earth that is away from the sun will appear dark. And yes, you can rotate it in a 360° view and this also works with the galactic view.

Cosmonium rotate view

Speaking of time, click on the Time menu to increase, decrease, reverse, freeze the time, or set the time manually or use the current time.

Cosmonium travel

Can we view other planets and stars? Of course, hit Enter and search for the object, e.g. Mars. Hit Enter again and its stats appears in the top left corner, tap the G key to jump to the planet. This includes a nice travelling animation which pans and zooms onto the object.

Cosmonium right-click menu

Right-click on an object to view a menu that includes among other options, an info panel.

Cosmonium info panel

There are many keyboard shortcuts available in Cosmonium, you can access the list by using Shift + F1. E.g. Ctrl + M toggles the menu bar, V hides the HUD. Most of the options are also available in the various menus.  The Render menu lets you toggle labels, orbits, bodies, grids, guides, 3D rendering and more. Switch to full screen mode using Alt + Enter or from the Window menu.  The program has an option to save screenshots, but it doesn't seem to work.

Cosmonium is an open source application, it is written in Python. The program is available for Linux, macOS and Windows. You can change the graphics settings from the File menu > Preferences > Advanced screen. To learn more about the advanced options, refer to the project's wiki. The application is still in beta. It crashed a few times in full screen mode. Hopefully it will get better with updates.

Summary
software image
Author Rating
1star1star1stargraygray
4 based on 7 votes
Software Name
Cosmonium
Operating System
Windows
Software Category
Multimedia
Price
Free
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Comments

  1. Jeff M.S. said on January 18, 2021 at 6:25 pm
    Reply

    Wow great find. Thank you Ashwin.

  2. VioletMoon said on January 18, 2021 at 6:44 pm
    Reply

    “Star gazing can be a relaxing experience, and you don’t need telescopes or planetariums to learn more about the mysteries of Space.”

    I beg to differ. We live in one of the few areas where we have at least three “dark-sky” locations. Looking directing at the stars, say from the beaches in the Yasawas or from “Island in the Sky” is looking at the stars and planets. Otherwise, it’s like looking at a magazine for pleasure.

    1. Larry Page said on February 1, 2021 at 3:51 pm
      Reply

      Or course, no software can replace the real deal of seeing it with one’s own eyes. But it presents an alternative and a decent one this software seems.

  3. Heidi-Ann Kennedy-Fourkiller said on January 18, 2021 at 8:02 pm
    Reply

    I should also recommend you add this to SkyChart / Cartes du Ciel
    Deep Sky Software that integrates with SkyChart / Cartes du Ciel.
    http://www.mikehotka.com/DAS/index.htm

    1. Heidi-Ann said on January 18, 2021 at 9:45 pm
      Reply
  4. Jojo said on January 18, 2021 at 9:03 pm
    Reply

    Does it show pictures of aliens?

    1. Eppo said on January 21, 2021 at 3:59 pm
      Reply

      Yes, it does!!

  5. Mike said on January 18, 2021 at 11:54 pm
    Reply

    Guide 9 released by Project Pluto runs well under linux (with wine) as well as windows or dos.
    It is inexpensive and well supported with many features, used around the world.

  6. Squiggy said on January 19, 2021 at 7:03 am
    Reply

    There was a program like this I used to use nearly a decade ago, looked very similar, I think it was called Celestia. I wonder if this is based on it. I always had a lot of fun “exploring” the solar system with it.

    1. nate said on January 19, 2021 at 10:10 am
      Reply

      “It is based on the (now defunct) Celestia project.”

      1. John C. said on January 20, 2021 at 6:08 am
        Reply

        But as I mentioned in another reply to this article, Celestia isn’t defunct; they just came out with a new version the day before yesterday: https://celestia.space/news.html

  7. n.sa_spin_ball said on January 19, 2021 at 9:06 am
    Reply

    A crazy round ball spinning 1000 miles/hour around axis plus another 67k miles/hour around another fire ball
    or
    bull crap, it’s flat

    1. igsnore said on January 21, 2021 at 8:26 pm
      Reply

      @n.sa_spin_ball

      Nice try, but you’re still a dopey robot, programed to spew blather.

      1. dopey_mind_washed_sheep said on January 23, 2021 at 12:18 pm
        Reply

        Nice try, but you’re still a dopey mind washed sheep programed to obey.

  8. John C. said on January 19, 2021 at 11:09 am
    Reply

    Celestia isn’t defunct; they just came out with a new version the day before yesterday: https://celestia.space/news.html

    1. Tuvix said on January 22, 2021 at 7:44 pm
      Reply

      I’m glad someone pointed that out, I did a double take reading the article. I really used to like this site but it seems lately that the quality of reporting here is abysmal; so much incorrect information being written here.

  9. GalegO said on January 19, 2021 at 6:21 pm
    Reply

    I recommend Sky Map app for Android, is made by Google. Love to look at some point in the sky and know exactly what I’m seeing.

  10. ah ha ha said on January 21, 2021 at 8:30 pm
    Reply

    If Ashwin said Celestia is defunct, then it must be true, as he is never wrong, well except for this:

    “..and if you the storage..”

    And all those other mistakes..

    Hmm. Never mind.

  11. owl said on January 22, 2021 at 1:56 pm
    Reply

    About 40 years ago, astronomer Carl Edward Sagan advocated “COSMOS”, which made me interested in the stars shining at night.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan
    My interest in the magnificent “universe” is never-ending, and I feel the romance from celestial globes and “planetariums”.

    Information:
    Stellarium (software) | Stellarium is an open-source free-software planetarium
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellarium_(software)
    Alternatives to Cosmonium for all platforms:
    https://alternativeto.net/software/cosmonium/

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