If you've been gripped by space-travel fever or just want a simple but effective way to learn about the universe then Celestial is a superb learning tool.
Celestial gives you a superb overview of the bigger picture out there by allowing you to explore the universe from the comfort of your armchair. It works by allowing you to navigate your way around the universe using your mouse and when you discover something of interest, you can use your mouse wheel to zoom in. You can also zoom right into planet surfaces or zoom out far enough to see the entire Milky Way.
Obviously, there's no A to Z map of finding your way around the universe and so fortunately Celestial has a "Go To Object" tool found under the "Location" bar. Type the name of the planet or solar constellation you want to see and Celestial magically whisks you there a la Google Earth. I'd recommend running the demo for starters because it takes you on a quick guided tour of everything Celestial can do.
There are a few drawbacks to Celestial. It would have been useful to have annotation of the solar system so that you can see which planets you're approaching or looking as it does get rather confusing browsing through the stars. Also, the level of detail of planet surfaces is a bit disappointing. It's understandable considering the lack of data we have about all the planets but even the Earth has very little detail. However, it should be noted that detail can be expanded using the "Celestial Motherlode" which is a collection of extensions from planet detail to space craft which can be downloaded.
Overall however, Celestial is an excellent learning tool or simply a lot of fun for all those that have an interest in Space and the constellations.
- contains bugs fixes
- new and more complete translations
- updated data files (including new exoplanet discoveries)