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The Solar System Simulator
March 27, 2002 10:32 AM   Subscribe

The Solar System Simulator 'is designed to simulate - as realistically as possible - what one would actually see from any point in the Solar System. The software looks up the positions of the Sun, planets and satellites from ephemeris files developed here at JPL, as well as star positions and colors from a variety of stellar databasees, and uses special-purpose renderers to draw a color scene. Texture maps for each of the planets and physical models for planetary rings have been derived (in most cases) from scientific data collected by various JPL spacecraft.' Far too complicated for me to even begin to understand, still I've always wondered what Saturn looks like from Triton.
posted by RobertLoch (15 comments total)

 
Oh sweet lord yes: [this is good]

Stuff like this, at least to me, is the epitome of what the web is about: Massive amounts of information displayed in a dynamic, visual and entertaining form.

Of course, looking at my statement in preview, I might be engaging in some hyperbole, but it's cool nonetheless. Come on, seeing what the solar system looked like at the moment of your birth is neato.
posted by thewittyname at 10:45 AM on March 27, 2002


Yes, this is very cool. And if you're wondering about accuracy, on the example page, they have comparisons between the simulator's renderings of what passing spacecraft would have seen at a particular point in time and the actual images transmitted from those spacecraft. The renderings are almost eerily accurate.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:54 AM on March 27, 2002


I'm rather fond of Celestia myself. Forms are a silly way to set up viewpoints, Celestia just lets you fly there.
posted by badstone at 10:54 AM on March 27, 2002


Insanely cool link. Thank you.

Hey, witty name, you were born just 10 days before I was.
posted by jammer at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2002


Fantastic. And it goes back to 1600!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:11 AM on March 27, 2002


Winstars lets you view the stars from earth, any position, any date. This stuff is wicked cool, as the kids say. Thanks!
posted by j.edwards at 11:14 AM on March 27, 2002


Very cool. One pointer - I was going crazy trying to figure out why the Earth wasn't visible from the Moon until I thought to click the "extra brightness" button. For some reason it comes out too dark to see otherwise.
posted by tdismukes at 11:40 AM on March 27, 2002


You must have picked a time when it was on the other side of the earth from the sun, tdismukes.
posted by mblandi at 1:40 PM on March 27, 2002


I tried about 10 different times of day. Didn't make much difference.
posted by tdismukes at 1:44 PM on March 27, 2002


Change the day of the month. Remember, the moon is "dark" when viewed from the earth for a few days each month - same the other way.
posted by yhbc at 2:11 PM on March 27, 2002


'splaining further: it looks like the moon had a full earth on March 14th. Conversely, today the moon is seeing a new earth.
posted by yhbc at 2:16 PM on March 27, 2002


The even more fun thing about Celestia is not only that you can fly freely to arbitrary vantage points, it's that you can fly to other stars and look back, or even out to the nearby Magellanic Cloud galaxies. (Do this with the constellations drawn and watch them deform!)
posted by nicwolff at 2:28 PM on March 27, 2002


I personally dig Aughra's model
posted by jfuller at 2:43 PM on March 27, 2002


All the online versions are awesome (and linked in my Astronomy favorities, thanks much), but I'd still rather have the orrery in Tomb Raider (the little one.) I'd put it right next to my Hoberman sphere. I don't mean to hijack the thread, but what are your favorite science toys?
posted by tetsuo at 3:38 PM on March 27, 2002


These are great, folks! Anybody got any more? (Oh, god, I seem to be in "collecting" mode!) Here's an old favorite of mine, on the off chance even one of you hasn't found it already. Absolutely fascinating info and...well...okay...I confess every now and again I go ka-BOOM! on days I would otherwise be pounding my head against the wall.
posted by realjanetkagan at 8:56 PM on March 27, 2002


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