Freeware for space fans – PC-WORLD

Look into the sun even without special glasses and reenact the last great darkness. Marvel at asteroid swarms on the desktop, use a virtual telescope and recreate the cockpit of a rocket. These tools take you into the infinite expanses of space.

How does piloting a spaceship feel? What did the starry sky look like on your birthday? These tools give the answer – with one exception free as freeware or open source.

Microsoft also has a space tool in its portfolio – which many people don’t even know. With the Microsoft WorldWide Telescope, you can explore distant stars and planets from your computer. The program accesses NASA databases and photos and delivers a total of several terabytes of image data. For telescope beginners, the program offers “Guided Tours”, which take you to places worth seeing in the galaxy without any navigational knowledge.

If observing through a telescope is not enough, you can swing yourself behind the controls of a spaceship. More precisely, in Orbiter he or she steers the space shuttle from the Kennedy Space Center into the vastness of space. Space enthusiasts get teary-eyed at the names Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Vostok – which you can also fly in orbiters yourself. If you prefer to build your own spaceship, you can do that in the freeware. But Orbiter wants to be more than entertainment. The program wants to convey the concept of all-flight and important knowledge around it to its players. It therefore attaches great importance to correct physics calculations.

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