This page is a guide for getting started in Universe Sandbox.
Before doing anything else, try going through the tutorials in Home > Tutorials.
Exploring the Included Simulations
Universe Sandbox includes dozens of simulations to explore.
Click Home > Open to browse a list of included simulations. You can filter the list by selecting a category. Below are some of the categories of simulations you will find.
Historical simulations are centered around an important event that has occurred in the world of astronomy. This includes planetary flybys by spacecraft, solar eclipses, famous comets, etc.
Fictional simulations are inspired by situations or worlds that are described in books, TV, movies, other video-games, etc.
Solar System Sims
Solar System simulations are all variations on our Solar System that include different sets of objects. For performance reasons, a simulation that includes every known solar system object will not run well on most hardware. Because of this, some Solar System simulations include, for example all planets and their major moons, and others will include all planets and other types of Solar System objects instead of moons.
These simulations focus on real exoplanet systems that have been discovered by astronomers. An exoplanet is any planet that is outside of our Solar System, which means it orbits another star. Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered in the past two decades thanks to advances in telescope technology that allow us to see farther beyond our Solar System. You can learn more about some of these in the exoplanet simulations in Universe Sandbox.
Creating a Star System
Custom simulations can be very simple or very complex, and can vary widely, but a good place to start is with creating your own star system.
Here's a simple list of steps to get you started:
- Click Home > New to load an empty simulation
- Click Add in the bottom bar and select a star
- Click in the simulation to add your star
- Click Add again and select a planet
- Add your planet to the simulation
Your planet will automatically begin orbiting your star. Then try adding moons, rings, and asteroids.
Learn more in the Add Tool tutorial: Home > Tutorials > Add Tool
Viewing & Changing Properties
Universe Sandbox allows viewing and editing dozens of properties for every object in a simulation. To view properties for any object, right-click on it, or click on it once and then click on its mini-info panel on the right side.
Try changing a property and seeing how it affects your simulation. For example, in the default Solar System simulation, increase the mass of the Sun and see how it increases its gravitational influence and pulls in the planets.
What if... Experiments
If you've explored the included simulations and created some custom systems and now don't know what to do, try to think of a "What if..." experiment. This is a great way to come up with an idea for a new simulation you can create, or an idea for how you can change an existing simulation to see unexpected and interesting results.
First, think of a question, like "What if the Sun disappeared?"