Ladies, here comes the big confession: I’m a space geek. There’s a ton of cool stuff out there in the night sky, it does cool things, and it really makes me feel like an ant in a humongous vacuum–er, tank– whenever I turn my face to the night sky and gaze at the big, shining, millions-of-years-old flickering lights.
I’ve previously turned to a freeware app called Celestia for all my non-TIE-Fighter-based space needs (the irony being that you can actually import Star Wars ships into the space-simulationg app, but I digress). A newcomer has since entered the playing field and, minus the fact that you’ll have to practically buy a new hard drive for the 366-megabyte download, it’s a pretty awesome looking voyage through the universe!
The app, dubbed “Space Engine,” allows you to fly through the cosmos and gaze upon various celestial bodies as if you were an astronaut with a warp drive attached to his or her back. Selecting new locations to visit—like good ol’ Mother Earth—is as easy as slapping F3 on your keyboard and typing in your location of choice. If you’re within a solar system, you can use F2 to pull up a picture-in-picture-like display of the various planets and moons located within. Switching your voyage is as easy as clicking on one and hitting “g”—Space Engine’s shortcut for its hyperdrive.
I say that as I do, for the app borrows a page from the Star Wars school of thought in its starry motion blur as you careen around the galaxy. While I can’t promise that this app is as cool as an angry wookie, the planets in our solar system do seem faithfully rendered—let me know how the rest of the galaxy looks. And don’t forget your towel, traveler.