Settings and configuration

Gaia Sky can be configured using the on-screen control panel and preferences dialog. However, very few features are not represented in the GUI, so you may need to dive deep into the properties file.

Graphics settings

Please refer to the Graphics configuration chapter.

User interface

The User Interface section allows the user to set the language and the theme of the user interface.

One can select between a choice of languages using the language drop-down. There are currently three visual themes available:

  • dark-green, black and green theme.

  • dark-blue, black and blue theme.

  • dark-orange, orange and blue theme.

  • bright-green, a bright theme with greenish tones.

  • night-red, a red theme for low-light environments.

Additionally, all themes are also available for HiDPI (high pixel density) screens. To enable this, check the Scale UI (HiDPI checkbox in the Preferences dialog, Interface tab, or add a the -x2 suffix to the theme name in the properties file.


In the Performance tab you can select how many background worker threads can be used by Gaia Sky. By default, multithreading is enabled and the number of threads is equal to the number of CPU coures (setting let the program decide).

More detailed info can be found in the performance section.

Draw distance

Certain big datasets use levels of detail (LOD) to prevent data clutter and make them manageable. Using this setting the user can adjust the draw distance, allowing more stars into the viewport. Refer to the Draw distance (levels of detail) section for more info.


You can see the key associations in the Controls tab. Controls are not editable. Check out the Controls documentation to know more.

Screenshot configuration

You can take screenshots anytime when the application is running by pressing F5. There are two screenshot modes available: * Simple, the classic screenshot of what is currently on screen, with the same resolution. * Advanced, where you can define the resolution of the screenshots. Additionally, the output format (either JPG or PNG) and the quality (in case of JPG format) can also be set in the configuration file, usually located in $GS_CONFIG/ (see folders). The keys to modify are:

  • screenshot.format

  • screenshot.quality

Frame output

There is a feature in Gaia Sky that enables the output of every frame as a JPG or PNG image. This is useful to produce videos. In order to configure the frame output system, use the Frame output tab. There you can select the output folder, the image prefix name, the output image resolution (in case of Advanced mode) and the target frame rate. Additionally, the output format (either JPG or PNG) and the quality (in case of JPG format) can also be set in the configuration file, usually located in $GS_CONFIG/ (see folders). The keys to modify are:

  • graphics.render.format

  • graphics.render.quality


Use F6 to activate the frame output mode and start saving each frame as an image. Use F6 again to deactivate it.

When the program is in frame output mode, it does not run in real time but it adjusts the internal clock to produce as many frames per second as specified here. You have to take it into account when you later use your favourite video encoder (ffmpeg) to convert the frame images into a video.

Camera recording

Here you can set the desired frames per second to capture the camera paths. If your device is not fast enough in producing the specified frame rate, the application will slow down while recording so that enough frames are captured. Same behaviour will be uploading during camera playback.

You can also enable automatic frame recording during playback. This will automatically activate the frame output system (see Frame output) during a camera file playback.

360 mode

Here you can define the cube map side resolution for the 360 mode. With this mode a cube map will be rendered (the whole scene in all direction +X, -X, +Y, -Y, +Z, -Z) and then it will be transformed into a flat image using an equirectangular projection. This allows for the creation of 360 (VR) videos.

360 mode in Gaia Sky

360 mode in Gaia Sky


As of version 1.0.0 you can use the Data tab to select the catalogues to load. You can select as many catalogs as you want.

The Data tab can also be used to toggle between high and low accuracy positions and to enalbe a catalog selection screen at startup.


Here you can choose the attitude of the satellite. You can either use the real attitude (takes a while to load but will ensure that Gaia points to where it should) and the NSL, which is an analytical implementation of the nominal attitude of the satellite. It behaves the same as the real thing, but the observation direction is not ensured.


Use this tab to enable and disable the debug info using the Show debug info checkbox. When the debug info is enabled, the program prints the frames per second and other useful information at the top-right of the screen.

Also, you can enable anonymous usage reporting, which connects to an analytics web service to build up some usage statistics. Only the events of application startup and shutdown are reported, and they are totally anonymous. This setting is disabled by default to protect the user’s privacy.

Finally, if you want to revert to the default settings, click on the Reload default settings button.