Milky Way

16 Best Free and Open Source Linux Astronomy Apps (Updated 2023)

Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with the study of celestial objects (including stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, meteor showers, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) and other phenomena.

We were introduced to the world of astronomy by the venerable Sir Patrick Moore. For anyone who does not know, Sir Patrick was an amateur astronomer who presented The Sky at Night, the longest-running television programme, for over 54 years, and made an outstanding contribution to astronomy.

Astronomy is particularly well suited to the layperson. It’s a wonderful hobby which has almost no age limits, it is open to individuals of all financial means, and there is always the potential for an amateur to discover something that has eluded professional astronomers, or to help monitor stars and track asteroids. Even with the unaided eye, there is much to study in the night sky including constellations, shooting stars, planets, and of course the moon, the Earth’s only natural satellite.

There is a wide variety of free astronomy software available for Linux that offer real benefits to astronomy enthusiasts. This category of software lets you map the night sky, plan detailed observations, control telescopes, present star charts, offer observing logs, and much more.

This article focuses on selecting the best free astronomy software available for Linux. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to study the sky. Here’s our verdict.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source astronomy software

Let’s explore the 16 astronomy applications at hand. For each application we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Astronomy Software
StellariumA virtual planetarium
Gaia SkyAstronomy visualization desktop and VR program
CelestiaReal-time space simulation
AstroImageJTool for astronomical image analysis and precise photometry
SkychartPrepare different sky maps for a particular observation
KStarsDesktop planetarium for KDE
OpenSpaceInteractive data visualization software
Aladin DesktopInteractive sky atlas
Virtual Moon AtlasReal-time moon observation
GingaFITS image viewer and toolkit
Digital Universe AtlasStandalone 4-dimensional space visualization application
ORSAFramework for celestial mechanics investigations
PreviSatSatellite tracking software for observing purposes
mars-simGeneral purpose simulator
SkyviewerDisplays HEALPix-based skymaps
Cosmonium3D astronomy and space exploration program
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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4 years ago

What about Aladin the professional planetarium programme plus much more ?

1 year ago

There is Gaia Sky too