Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gaia star catalog for Celestia

The ESA's Gaia astrometric satellite has published its first Data Release, providing RA, Dec and parallax measurements for about 80% of the more than 2 million stars of the Hipparcos Tyco2 catalog. They provide RA and and Dec for another 2 billion or so stars, but they can't be used in Celestia without parallax measurements (distances). An updated DR2 is expected to be available in spring of 2018. For details, see

Although a 2 million star database is already available as an Addon for Celestia, most of its distances were derived using spectrographic and magnitude information and not a direct parallax measurement. As a result, they're relatively unreliable.

A revised version of Celestia's default stars.dat, containing about 110,000 stars, is available at  (about 2.75 MB, expands to  5.4 MB)

Revised versions of Pascal Hartmann's stars.dat containing 1 or 2 million stars are available at  (about 51 MB, expands to about 59 MB)

Approximately 2/3 of the stars in each of those three stars.dat files have been updated with Gaia's distance measurements.

Interactive notebook: a WIP

I'm in the process of constructing an interactive notebook for use in Celestia, using Anim8or to design its components. It's interactive in the sense that the viewer can turn its pages, not that new entries can be written from within Celestia. Writing on a page has to be done "out of band" by painting the surface texture for each leaf of the notebook.

A sub-project was to create what looks like a taped-in photograph which will be used in several places. I have made it available on DeviantArt at

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Orion's Arm Wormholes

As another distraction, I've been working on a Celestia Addon which displays the wormhole connections used in the Orion's Arm Universe

Saturday, July 30, 2016

New Celestia Web site and Forum

With permission from Chris Laurel, the official Celestia Web site has been transferred to

The new site is being run by a Celestia enthusiast in Russia and includes a Web Forum at

Monday, July 11, 2016

Algae and Fish Farming

Production of basic foods in space require plenty of sunlight as well as some gravity. While the plants and animals might not mind microgravity, production facilities work better when there's something pulling the product in particular directions. The toruses counter-rotate in order to minimize torques on the docking facilities.

Monday, July 4, 2016

ECS-5 Norway at Pell

Using Troutweaver's models, I've created a very preliminary and incomplete animation of the warship ECS-5 Norway entering the Pell system. It's about 98 seconds long. The original video is 1024x768.  By default, Youtube shows it at a much lower resolution, but if your browser has a video downloader plugin, you can download it at its full size.

 The video can be seen at
ECS-5 Norway at Pell (on Youtube)

 Here's a teaser screengrab:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Loading a Can Hauler

After a bit of struggling and letting my subconscious work on it overnight, here's an animation of a can being loaded into the hauler.

The models of the "hero" can and of the ships were created by Troutweaver.

I created the "depot" where the cans are stored while waiting for transshipment and a simplified can design to reduce graphics overhead.

The 640x480 video can be watched at