Cosmonium, a free space exploration and astronomy software

about Cosmonium

In the next article we are going to take a look at Cosmonium. This is a free and open source 3D astronomy and space exploration software, available for Gnu / Linux, Windows and MacOS. We can use this program to visit our solar system with all the planets and their moons. It will also allow us to visit neighboring stars, the galaxy and the Universe in general.

This program also can offer users HD and UHD images, by uploading an additional package. The program is written in Python and released under the GPL-3.0 license. Some other similar applications are Winstars and Stellarium.

With this program, users will be able to navigate the solar system and discover all the planets and their moons. It will also allow us to visit neighboring stars and discover the true size of our galaxy and the Universe. Cosmonium is also compatible with some Celestia plugins.

General characteristics of Cosmonium

cosmonium preferences

  • Cosmonium supports the following navigation modes; free flight, body tracking, synchronous orbit, and body tracking.
  • This program uses current time to display day / night view of earthThat is, the side of the earth that is away from the sun will appear dark. It will allow us to rotate in a 360 ° view, which will also work with the galactic view.
  • Cosmonium can display the following annotations on the bodies shown; orbit, axis of rotation and reference frame. Also supports grids and guides.
  • The program for the moment only admit Keplerian orbits and uniform rotations. As indicated, support for more precise orbits and rotations will be added later.
  • It includes lighting and dispersion models Lambert-Blinn-Phong, Lunar-Lambert, Oren-Nayar, PBR (glTF model), O’Neil Atmospheric Scattering (simple and advanced), and Celestia Atmospheric Scattering.

vision of the moon

  • Between the supported texture formats we will find; PNG, JPEG, DDS and BMP.
  • We will also be able to use Celestia virtual textures (CTX) and space engine.
  • It also has different types of map; surface, normal, specular, nocturnal, occlusive, emission or roughness.
  • Cosmonium supports the procedural generation of height maps using noise functions.

These are just some of the features of this program. Can be consult all of them in detail from the Wiki of the program.

Program requirements

  • Cosmonium runs on Gnu / Linux (CentOS 5, Ubuntu 14 or higher), Windows (View or top) or macOS (mac0S 10.9 or higher).
  • You need a graphics card that supports OpenGL 2.1 or higher (OpenGL 4.5 is recommended).
  • Cosmonium is a download of just over 319MB.
  • We will also need at least 592 MB of disk, once the downloaded package is unzipped (up to 4GB if we use the HD and UHD textures).

Download and use Cosmonium on Ubuntu

Download Cosmonium

Cosmonium should run on Ubuntu 14.04 and higher with no problem. Running this program in Ubuntu is a simple process, you don’t really need to install it. To start, we just need download the latest released package in the tar.gz compressed file format from the download page of the project.

extract package

Once the download is complete, we just need to right click on the file and select the option “Extract here.

run cosmonium

Next we are going to open the extracted Cosmonium folder and we will click with the right mouse button on the program file called cosmonium. Then we just have to select option Run.


When the program opens, it will present us with a view of the Earth. It will also show us the parameters of the selected celestial object, such as the name, the altitude and the radius in the upper left corner. While the frame rate is displayed on the opposite edge of the window. further we can move the camera by holding down the mouse button and dragging it in the direction that interests us. We can also use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

view of the earth

In the program we can use different keyboard shortcuts. To access the list we will use the key combination Shift + F1. Although it must be said that most of the options are available in the different menus of the program.

Keyboard shortcuts

For more information on the advanced options of this program, users can consult the Project Wiki.

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