Celestia Real-Time Space Simulation, 7-12

Celestia, a free real-time space simulation, lets students explore the universe in three dimensions. Students can travel throughout the solar system to any of more than 100,000 stars or even beyond the galaxy at any speed, at any moment of time, and in any direction they choose. With the zoom feature students can explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A “point-and-go to” interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object students want to visit. Celestia comes with a large catalog of stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and spacecraft. Students can also download dozens of easy-to-install add-ons with more objects.

With Celestia students are in a virtual reality world of the universe. Celestia has developed a set of twelve of educational activities that take students on extensive, detailed virtual tours of the universe, some lasting several hours. These activities teach students a variety of facts about specific astronomical topics and allow them to participate in an educational journey not as a spectator but as pilot of their own spacecraft. Each journey includes student worksheets, which meet all National Educational Standards in Science, that can be printed, copied, and distributed by teachers. They are available at no charge for download individually as zipped files from http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/educational.php.

Using some of the add-ons available for the program, here is just a taste of what students will be able to encounter:

  • Learn the unbelievable size and magnitude of our universe firsthand, with a journey from the surface of Earth to the far reaches of our observable universe at hyperspeed.
  • Fly along with Mariner 10 on its historic flyby of Mercury.
  • Visit the searing surface of Venus and view it in a panoramic 360° vista from the surface.
  • Be present as Apollo 11 lands on the Moon in 1969, or fly by Sputnik 1 in 1958 shortly after its launch.
  • View Earth’s Magnetic Field from space and see the Aurora glowing and shimmering.
  • Display an internal X-section of Earth and peer deeply into its tectonic layers and structure.
  • See the massive size of Hurricane Katrina as it makes landfall on New Orleans.