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Gaia Sky

Documentation Status Circle CI License: MPL 2.0

Gaia Sky is a real-time, 3D, astronomy visualisation software that runs on Windows, Linux and MacOS. It is developed in the framework of ESA's Gaia mission to chart about 1 billion stars of our Galaxy. To get the latest up-to-date and most complete information,

This file contains the following sections:

  1. Installation instructions and requirements
  2. Configuration instructions
  3. Running instructions
  4. Copyright and licensing information
  5. Contact information
  6. Credits and acknowledgements

1. Installation instructions and requirements

1.1 Requirements

Operating system Windows 7+ / MacOS X / Linux
CPU Intel Core i3 3rd Generation or similar
GPU OpenGL 3.0 support / Intel HD 4000 / Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS, 500 MB GRAM
Memory 3 GB RAM
Hard drive 230 MB of free disk space
Java On Linux, you need the Java Runtime Environment 8+ installed (openJRE is fine)

1.2 Installation and uninstallation

Depending on your system and your personal preferences the installation procedure may vary. Below is a description of the various installation methods available. You can download the packages here.

1.2.1 Windows

Two windows installers are available for 32 and 64-bit systems here.

  • gaiasky_windows_<version>.exe - 32 bit installer.
  • gaiasky_windows-x64_<version>.exe - 64 bit installer.

Both versions will automatically install the JRE if it is not present in the system. To install Gaia Sky, just double click on the installer and then follow the on-screen instructions. You will need to choose the directory where the application is to be installed.

In order to uninstall the application you can use the Windows Control Panel or you can use the provided uninstaller in the Gaia Sky folder.

1.2.2 Linux

We provide 4 packages for linux systems. deb, rpm, an aur package and a linux installer. You can get them here. The aur package can be installed using any AUR helper. DEB

This is the package for Debian-based distros (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, SteamOS, etc.). Download the gaiasandbox_linux_<version>.deb file and run the following command. You will need root privileges to install a deb package in your system.

sudo dpkg -i gaiasky_linux_<version>.deb

This will install the application in the /opt/gaiasky/ folder and it will create the necessary shortcuts.

In order to uninstall, just type:

sudo apt-get remove gaiasky AUR

We also provide an AUR package called gaiasky. You can install it easily with any tool capable of accessing AUR, for example yaourt.

yaourt -S gaiasky RPM

This is the package for RPM-based distributions (Red Hat, Fedora, Mandriva, SUSE, CentOS, etc.) Download the gaiasky_linux_<version>.rpm file and run the following command. You will need root privileges to install a rpm package in your system.

sudo yum install gaiasky_linux_<version>.rpm

This will install the application in the /opt/gaiasky/ folder and it will create the necessary shortcuts.

In order to uninstall, just type:

sudo yum remove gaiasky-x86 Linux installer

We also provide a Linux installer (here) which will trigger a graphical interface where you can choose the installation location and some other settings. Download the file gaiasandbox_unix_<version>.sh to your disk. Then run the following to start the installation.


Follow the on-screen instructions to proceed with the installation.

In order to uninstall, just run the uninstall file in the installation folder.

1.2.3 macOS X

For macOS we provide a gaiasky_macos_<version>.dmg file which is installed by unpacking into the Applications folder. Get it here. Once unpacked, you can run it by clicking on it.

1.2.4 Compressed (TGZ) package

A gaiasky-<version>.tgz package file is also provided. It will work in all systems but you need to unpack it yourself and create the desired shortcuts.

In Windows, use an archiver software (7zip, iZArc, etc.) to unpack it.

In Linux and macOS, you can use:

tar -zxvf gaiasky-<version>.tgz

2. Running instructions

2.1 Running Gaia Sky

In order to run the program just click on the shortcut provided in your operating system.

2.2 Running from source

First, clone the GitHub repository:

git clone
cd gaiasky

Make sure you have at least JDK8 installed.

The TGAS catalog files (Gaia data) are not in the repository, so if you want to use TGAS when running from source you need to download the tar file corresponding to your version — see table below.

As of version 1.5.0, there are new GPU-bound catalogs which perform much better and can also be combined with the levels-of-detail structure to produce a good combo in terms of performance and load times. Choose which catalog you want to use. Usually, the single file GPU version should work fine (tgas gpu), and has no culling, so all particles are visible at all times.

Catalog Description Location Catalog file
tgas lod (1.0.3) Levels of detail (lod) TGAS catalog. CPU-bound. gaiasky/android/assets/data/octree -
tags lod (1.0.4) Levels of detail (lod) TGAS catalog. CPU-bound. gaiasky/android/assets/data/octree -
tags lod (1.5.0+) Levels of detail (lod) TGAS catalog. GPU-bound. gaiasky/android/assets/data/octree/tgas data/catalog-tgas-hyg-lod.json
tags gpu (1.5.0+) TGAS catalog, GPU-bound. gaiasky/android/assets/data/catalog data/catalog-tgas-hyg.json

For versions 1.0.x just extract the package in the specified location. For versions 1.5.0+ you can choose whether you want to use the Levels of detail catalog (multiple files, uses an octree structure which culls particles outside the view frustum and hides particles which are far away according to the view distance setting) or the regular catalog (single file, loaded once at startup, contains the full catalog, which is sent to GPU memory). Then, you need to point the key data.json.catalog in your $HOME/.gaiasky/ file to the file specified in the last column in the table.

Albeit not recommended for performance reasons, the legacy particle-based (CPU-bound) version of the catalog (version 1.0.4) can still be used with newer versions. To do so, extract the package in gaiasky/android/assets/data/octree/tgas so that the metadata.bin file and the particles folder are directly within that folder and edit the configuration file so that data.json.catalog points to data/catalog-tgas-hyg-lod-old.json.

Finally, run Gaia Sky with:

gradlew desktop:run

Et voilà! Gaia Sky is running on your machine.

3. Documentation and help

The most up-to-date documentation of Gaia Sky is always in

4. Copyright and licensing information

This software is published and distributed under the MPL 2.0 (Mozilla Public License 2.0). You can find the full license text here or visiting

5. Contact information

The main webpage of the project is There you can find the latest versions and the latest information on Gaia Sky.