Celestia/DSC File

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

This is a brief description of the parameters recognized by Celestia in DSC files (Deep Space Catalogs). DSC Galaxy functionality underwent a substantial improvement in Celestia v1.4.1 when compared to the previous versions of Celestia.

A DSC catalog file can be used to describe four classes of objects: OpenCluster, Globular (i.e. Globular Cluster), Nebula or Galaxy.

A DSC object definition consists of its class, a quoted name, and its parameters enclosed in braces:

Class  "name" { ...parameters... }

Unlike STC and SSC files, DSC files don't support Modify and Replace directives, so to modify an object defined in a DSC file you have to edit the original file.

List of Parameters[edit | edit source]


  • OpenCluster "name"
  • GlobularCluster "name"
  • Nebula "name"
  • Galaxy "name"


  • RA f, Dec f, Distance f


  • Position [f f f]


  • Axis [f f f]
  • Angle f


  • Radius f


  • InfoUrl "URL"


  • Mesh "filename"
  • Type "string"
  • CustomTemplate "filename"
  • AbsMag f or Appmag f

OpenCluster "name"[edit | edit source]

    "name" is the name of the object. Multiple names can be specified within the quotes if they're separated by colons (:). OpenCluster currently is used only to associate the specified "name" with a position in space. The members of an OpenCluster are defined separately in one or more .STC files or in stars.dat. The parameters used to define an OpenCluster are

    placement[edit | edit source]

    A deep space object's position can be defined either by specifying a single position vector or by specifying its three astronomical coordinates.

    • Position [ f f f ]
      The position vector's [x y z ] coordinates are in Light Years, specifying a position in Celestia's Ecliptic J2000 "Universal" coordinate system
    • or
    • Distance number (default: 1.0) in LightYears
    • RA number (default: 0.0) Right Ascension in fractional Hours (unlike STC catalogs, which use fractional degrees)
    • Dec number (default: 0.0) Declination in fractional degrees

    orientation (optional)[edit | edit source]

    • Axis 3 vector (default: [ 1.0 0.0 0.0] )
      a unit vector specifying the orientation of the object's axis in Celestia's Ecliptic J2000 "Universal" coordinate system
    • Angle number (default: 0.0 degrees)
      the amount the object is rotated around that Axis.

    size[edit | edit source]

    • Radius number (default: 0.0) in Light Years.

    information (optional)[edit | edit source]

    • InfoUrl "string"
      "string" should be the URL of a web page describing the object.

Globular "name"[edit | edit source]

    Places a glowing spherical image of stars at the specified position.
    Uses all of the parameters used for OpenCluster plus the following:

    size[edit | edit source]

    • Radius number, in light-years.
    The Radius specifies the size of the globular. Note that this does not affect the placement of sprites. It does, however, change the "bounding box". For a larger Radius, the red markers will be appear farther away from the center of the globular. The Radius parameter also controls how far you are from the center of the globular, when you select and go-to that object.

    shape[edit | edit source]

    • Detail number
    Detail is a value between 0 and 1 that controls how many point sprites the globular has. The default value is 1, and this places the maximum amount of point sprites. A value of 0 creates a globular with no stars but a glowing central "core". Using a value greater than 1 or less than 0 is equivalent to using 1 or 0, respectively.
    • CoreRadius number
    • KingConcentration number

    example[edit | edit source]

     Globular "M 4:NGC 6121:GCl 41:C 1620-264"
           RA          	   16.3931  # [hours]
           Dec         	  -26.5253  # [degrees]
           Distance    	      7176  # [ly]
           Radius      	     37.57  # [ly], mu25 Isophote
           CoreRadius  	      0.83  # [arcmin]
           KingConcentration     1.59  # c = log10(r_t/r_c)
           AbsMag      	      -7.2  # [V mags]
           Axis       	[  0.1967  -0.6744  -0.7117]
           Angle       	     171.8  # [degrees]
           InfoURL  "http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/sim-id.pl?Ident=NGC+6121"

Nebula "name"[edit | edit source]

    Places a glowing model at the specified position and orientation.
    Uses all of the parameters used for OpenCluster plus the following:

    shape[edit | edit source]

    • Mesh "filename" (optional)
    "filename" must be the name of a 3DS, CMS or CMOD model file which determines the Nebula's shape.
    The model's internal material may require an associated PNG, JPG or DDS surface texture image file to be in the object's subdirectory /textures/medres to define the Nebula's coloration.
    If Mesh is omitted, no object is drawn.

Galaxy "name"[edit | edit source]

    Places a glowing image of a galaxy at the specified position and orientation
    Uses all of the parameters used for OpenCluster plus the following:

    shape[edit | edit source]

    • Type "string"
      "string" should be one of: S0, Sa, Sb, Sc, SBa, SBb, SBc, E0, E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6, E7, Irr
      The Type is shown in Celestia's on-screen informational display. It also determines which PNG image in Celestia's Models directory is used to define the shape of the Galaxy's image.
      If no Type is specified, it defaults to "Irr".


    • CustomTemplate "filename" (optional)
      "filename" must be a the name of a PNG image defining the shape of this Galaxy. The PNG image must be located in the main /models directory (where all the other custom template files are).

    brightness[edit | edit source]

    • AppMag number


    • AbsMag number

Example[edit | edit source]

  Nebula "M16" 
     Mesh "1995-44-a.3ds"
     Axis    [0.205007 -0.737927 -0.642989]
     Angle 146.298
     RA 18.31404
     Dec -13.8311
     Distance 7002
     Radius 3.45