Graphics configuration

Most of the graphics settings can be adjusted using the Preferences dialog.

Resolution and mode

You can find the Resolution and mode configuration under the Graphics tab.

  • Display mode – select between fullscreen mode and windowed mode. In the case of full screen, you can choose the resolution from a list of supported resolutions in a drop down menu. If you choose windowed mode, you can enter the resolution you want. You can also choose whether the window should be resizable or not. In order to switch from full screen mode to windowed mode during the execution, use the key F11.

  • V-sync – enable v-sync to limit the frame rate to the refresh rate of your monitor. In some cases this may help reducing tearing.

  • Maximum frame rate – it is possible to set a maximum frame rate by ticking this checkbox and entering a positive integer value. The frame rate will be capped to that value.

Graphics settings

Graphics quality

This setting governs the size of the textures, the complexity of the models and also the quality of some graphical effects like the light glow or the lens flare. Here are the differences:

  • Low – very low resolution textures, mostly 1K (1024x512), and fewer sample counts for the visual effects than in higher quality settings. Low-fidelity Milky Way model.

  • Normal – moderately low resolution textures (2K when available). The graphical effects use a reasonable amount of quality for nice visuals without compromising the performance too much. Medium-fidelity Milky Way model.

  • High – high-resolution 4K (3840x2160) textures. Graphical effects use a large number of samples. High-fidelity Milky Way model. This may be taxing even on good graphics cards.

  • Ultra – very high resolution textures (8K, 16K, etc.). Ultra-high-fidelity Milky Way model.


In the Graphics tab you can also find the antialiasing configuration. Applying antialiasing removes the jagged edges of the scene and makes it look better. However, it does not come free of cost, and usually has a penalty on the frames per second (FPS). There are four main options, described below.

Find more information on antialiasing in the Antialiasing section.

No Antialiasing

If you choose this no antialiasing will be applied, and therefore you will probably see jagged edges around models. This has no penalty on either the CPU or the GPU. If want you enable antialiasing with override application settings in your graphics card driver configuration program, you can leave the application antialiasing setting to off.

FXAA – Fast Approximate Antialiasing

This is a post-processing antialiasing filter which is very fast and produces very good results. The performance hit depends on how fast your graphics card is, but it is generally low. Since it is a post-processing effect, this will work also when you take screenshots or output the frames. As of Gaia Sky 2.2.5, FXAA is activated by default. Here is more info on FXAA.

NFAA – Normal Field Antialiasing

This is yet another post-processing antialiasing technique. It is based on generating a normal map to detect the edges for later smoothing. It may look better on some devices and the penalty in FPS is small. It will also work for the screenshots and frame outputs.

Orbit style

Style to render the orbits.

  • Use line style – use whatever style is defined in the Line style setting.

  • GPU VBOs – very fast, but slightly inaccurate and bad-looking. Enable for performance, as everything is done in the GPU.

Line style

Select the line rendering backend.

  • GL lines – use the line primitives offered by the graphics driver. Quite fast.

  • Polyline quadstrips – use polygon lines. Better looking but slower.

Bloom effect

This slider controls the amount of bloom (light bleeding from bright to dark areas) to apply to the scene. Bring it all the way down to zero to disable bloom altogether.

Unsharp mask factor

Since 3.0.2

This slider controls the amount of sharpening to apply to the scene with the unsharp mask effect. Increasing the unsharp mask factor makes the visuals sharper but possibly introduces aliasing and visual artifacts. Bring it all the way down to zero to disable the unsharp mask effect.

Lens flare

Activate the procedural, pseudo lens flare effect.

Motion blur

Activate the camera motion blur effect.

Elevation representation

Choose the way elevation (height) is represented in Gaia Sky.

  • Tessellation – use geometry subdivision by tessellation. This may be taxing on integrated or old graphics cards. Disable if frame rate is low.

  • Parallax mapping – use parallax mapping in the fragment shaders.

  • None – do not represent elevation.


Enable or disable shadows, and choose their properties.

  • Shadow map resolution – choose the resolution of the shadow map textures to use.

  • # shadows – how many shadows are active at a time in the scene.

Image levels

Control the image levels

  • Brightness – overall brightness of the image.

  • Contrast – overall contrast of the image.

  • Hue – hue value of the image.

  • Saturation – saturation value of the image.

  • Gamma correction – gamma correction value of the image. This should be calibrated with your monitor.

  • HDR tone mapping type – tone mapping algorithm to use. Choose Automatic to use a real-time adjusting mode based on the overall lightness of the image. All the others are static algorithms.