In my recent wanderings around the web I stumbled across a space simulator that renders stunningly beautiful vistas and detailed star systems. In the past I’ve loved space simulators like Celestia and I’m wowed by the level of detail with Outerra. If you were to combine the two you come up with a program like Space Engine. Like Celestia it can render planets, stars, galaxies, moons, and a whole range of space objects. Like Outerra it can render planet surfaces and atmospheres, but not quite to the fine scale as Outerra.
The program uses a procedural method to generate solar systems to include the number of stars ( most solar systems have more than one star!), the type of stars, planets and their orbits, and asteroids.
The majority of stars in the galaxy are red dwarfs and their planets tend to cluster close to the star. This causes the planets to become tidally locked so that one face always faces the star. This is similar to our moon which has the same face pointing towards earth.
Some worlds are blazing hot on one side and freezing cold on the backside. Perhaps in the twilight areas life is possible?
Large, subsolar hurricanes could form,
In multi star systems each star could hve its own collection of planets.
Gas giant moons could have an atmosphere and possibly harbor life.
Planets and alien skies can be beautiful.