You guys like space? If you do, you’re going to love this. Space Engine is a friggin’ UNIVERSE SIMULATOR. In the simulator, you can literally visit any star you see, and those stars may or may not have planets orbiting around them. You can then close in on those planets or any orbiting moons. The software includes our solar system of course and any uncharted planets, star systems, and galaxies are procedurally generated. The simulator also has every type of celestial object known to modern astronomy. It’s super impressive.
- All types of celestial objects are represented: planets, moons, asteroids, stars, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies.
- The observer is free to move around the universe. Transition between any celestial body and any scale occurs continuously.
- The observer can move around in space using the WASD keys, like in First Person Shooters. Movement with inertia is made possible in Spacecraft mode or Aircraft mode.
- "Select and fly" autopilot: just click on any object with the mouse and hit the 'G' key to automatically go directly to the object.
- Search for celestial objects by name. Scalable map of the Universe and the planetary system map. Saving locations and an autopilot's journal.
- The orbital motion of planets and stars is calculated in real time, with the ability to accelerate, decelerate, or reverse the flow of time.
- The orbital paths of celestial objects can be shown, along with their labels and grids.
- Automatic binding of the observer to the moving object and automatic selection of optimum flight speed.
- Known celestial objects are represented using data from the catalogs: galaxies (NGC/IC), stars (HIPPARCOS), star clusters, nebulae, planets (our Solar system data and known extrasolar planets).
- Uncharted regions of space feature procedurally generated objects: galaxies, stars, star clusters, nebulae and planetary systems.
- 3D landscapes of planets and stars: for many solar system bodies actual data from space probes is used. For uncharted exo-planets the surface is generated procedurally.
- Volumetric 3D sprite models of galaxies and nebulae including light-absorbing dust clouds,
It's a free software, and can be downloaded here http://en.spaceengine.org/. As of writing this, the latest version is 0.9.6. There's also a 0.9.6.1 patch. As this is in beta, you may find that it'll crash, and it's usually due to memory issues. I'd also recommend you have your graphics card driver up-to-date. If you go to the download page, you can also find add-ons like high-res textures, bump maps for planets etc.