You can use the Orbit Editor to create new celestial objects. For instance, if a comet or Moon has been recently discovered, you can use the Orbit Editor to add it to Starry Night, simply by entering its orbital elements. The Orbit Editor also allows you to add surface and atmosphere maps to your new objects.
Adding your own objects to the solar system is a great way to learn about celestial mechanics. The Orbit Editor lets you view the shapes, sizes, and positions of a new orbit, as well as use sliders to adjust these aspects in realtime. This feature makes it clear what each particular orbital element means, and how the orbit is affected when adjustments are made.
To use the Orbit Editor:
- Select File-New (Comet/Asteroid or Satellite) orbiting the Sun. Or,
- Right-click (windows) or Ctrl-Click (Mac) the Sun or the planet (or moon, asteroid, etc) around which you want the new object to orbit, and select New Comet (or Asteroid or Satellite).
Starry Night opens an Orbit Editor window in which you can now define the orbit and characteristics of the new planet, moon, asteroid, comet, or satellite that you are adding.
Note: Starry Night calculates a preferred field of view for each tab folder, one that reflects the function of the tab. For example, the view of your new object from the Surface tab is closer than that of the view from the Orbital Elements tab.
Tip: The Orbit Editor window is resizeable.
When the Orbit Editor first appears the Orbital Elements tab will be selected. You can name your object, select the object type, such as Moon, planet, and so on from the fields at the top of the window. You can also adjust the diameter, and the Absolute Magnitude of the object in the Other Settings tab. Absolute Magnitude is the brightness of the object seen from 10 parsecs, or 32.6 light years.
Adding Multiple Objects
The Orbit Editor lets you add individual planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and satellites; it is also a terrific tool for learning about orbital elements. Sometimes however you want to add a number of objects at once. You can add multiple objects most easily by writing their data directly to the Satellites.txt, Asteroids.txt, or Comets.txt files stored in the Sky Data folder. You can also download updated versions of these files from this website. For more information on adding comets, satellites or comets as a batch or to update these file sees the links below.