I have found a new software on the net that I really can spend hours and hours toying around with. This is Celestia – a beautiful astronomical and scientifically correct model to the best of our understanding yet of the universe. Celestia works on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X as well.
You quickly learn how to use the zoom in and out features, how to track celestial objects through the sky but the one thing that strikes me the most is how incredibly alone I feel after a while. I have been standing on Phobos and Deimos, looking down on the face of Mars and although they are just small rocks they are quite far away from the planet that they orbit. I have been amazed over how far from the planet some of the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn are and the sheer number of orbiting bodies around Neptune. And then I suddenly stumbled uppon Cassini, the space probe, still going toward the outermost parts of the solar system.
I have traveled to galaxies far beyond a human comprehension and lost myself along clusters too far from the sun that it was impossible to see the Milky Way again. I have discovered the Greater and Lesser Magellan Clouds and amazed that we and Andromeda are so close in a universe on a perverse macro scale.
This my friends are just amazing. And it is freeware. Download, enjoy if you are an Astronomy buff.
All pictures here are taken from the software.