For thousands of years, space has been a mystery. Even from ancient times, humanity has been interested in viewing, exploring and understanding the stars. But in order to do this, we had to go through a lot of scientific evolution. Nowadays, we have telescopes and other sophisticated equipment that can help us venture into the unknown universe.

Along with the evolution of astronomy, we have found out that stars move and interact with other stars as well. AstroGrav is a piece of software that allows you to see how stars interact with each other while also viewing the impact of gravity regarding the movement of stars and planets.

The Looks

The interface of AstroGrav is a little complicated. Upon starting the program, you are asked for a sample planet input and, based on that, you are welcomed by a pretty interesting, straightforward interface comprised of a 3D and 2D view of the star system, a table containing a lot of information about all available stars, planets, asteroids, and a simple tab from where you can choose the planet you are currently interested in.

Working with AstroGrav is pretty easy. All you have to do is choose what to explore and the program does the rest. The four windows deliver quick access to all important functions, so various actions like changing the current planet, viewing precise information about it and seeing it in real time can be done in a matter of seconds.

The Works

AstroGrav lets you understand astronomical systems, the impact that gravitation has on stars and the universe overall. Also important, the program lets you see how they evolve in time. When starting the software, I was curios to see the implementation of our own solar system. Of course, AstroGrav comes with a full implementation of our Sun-based system, also including the Milky Way.

Upon choosing the solar system, we can see both a 3D and basic implementation of it. Of course, in the beginning, they are static, but you can modify them and also see their evolution as time goes by. What I liked most is that one can set a precise time to visualize the evolution, see how it affects the position of the star and how other planets react to it. Its clear that the Universe is a vivid place, where every action has a counter reaction.

Some tools are also available right in the simulation window. These are very useful for the average user. From top to bottom, these are: the magnification tool, a unique way to browse through the planets and see them from up close, a brightness changing tool which, based on its level, lets you view even the little stars surrounding the planets.

Furthermore, you can choose an object style to see the impact that the new style has on the graph and the simulation overall. AstroGrav calculates how astronomical objects move according to Newtons law of gravitation, while giving you precise results regarding the object movement and the impact gravitation has on them.

One of the most impressive features AstroGrav has to offer is surely the star table. Here, you can gain precious information about the stars and their characteristics. You can find out, for example, the type of the object (star, planet or moon), its radius, luminosity, mass, speed and distance.

Plus, AstroGrav is the place where I found out there are over 180 stars, planets and moons located in our solar system. Another interesting thing about the program is that you can change the evolution time in order to be as accurate as possible. Time steps can be made from 1 second to 20 years.

Also, each planet has its own information panel that can be viewed and edited if you feel you have some updated information. This increases the overall impact you have on the program while letting you feel a little more in control. Notes can be made if you feel that the simulation gave you something to think about.

The Good

AstroGrav is a great way to explore the solar system and stars. It gives you a nice, straightforward view of the surroundings of our planet, while letting you choose the evolution factors and how that affects planets. The program is a pretty good educational tool that can also be used by professionals, since the information delivered is both rich and accurate.

The Bad

There is little to say about the downsides of this piece of software; nevertheless, we should note that it is a little hard to learn how it works at first. Plus, its price is pretty big if you intend to buy it as a home user (55.22 Euro).

The Truth

Astronomy and the impact of gravitation in our life has never been so beautifully described. AstroGrav is indeed a program for both professionals and enthusiasts, giving you complete access to a lot of data while also providing you with nice 3D and 2D models to play with. But try it for yourselves and see how good it really is.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action: