Extrasolar planet sky simulator?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Makosuke, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #1
    I'm looking for a rather oddball piece of software that may or may not exist. What I want to do is generate an image of what the sky would look like from a hypothetical extrasolar planet with configurable sky features--for example, a planet with a small ring and a couple of moons with X orbital inclination from Y latitude at Z:00 o'clock.

    Using a solar system simulator that can show the sky as seen from, say, Saturn could sort of fudge it, but I'm hoping for something a little more configurable.

    A bunch of Googling turned up nothing useful. Anybody know if such software exists?
     
  2. quatermass macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2009
    #2
    I think Celestia may be what you're after - http://www.shatters.net/celestia/

    You can build entire solar systems with it, using a text file that has all the orbital elements needed to describe the system, and then fly through it, land on the planets, orbit them etc. Very useful resource is the Celestia Motherlode - http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/

    Lots of existing extrasolar planets there - http://www.celestiamotherlode.net/catalog/fictional.php#1800

    Best thing is to have a look at some existing SSC files, and see how they work. And you can have your own surface maps too.

    Adrian
     
  3. Partron22 macrumors 68020

    Partron22

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    Yes
    #3
    NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator
     
  4. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

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    Aug 15, 2001
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    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #4
    Thank you very much for the recommendation, quatermass. That does indeed do exactly what I want in terms of generating planets, moons, and rings as desired (provided of course I can figure out how to set up the files).

    It only has two unfortunate weaknesses: The mode for viewing the sky from the surface is pretty shaky--it's clearly much better designed for flythroughs--and planets do not cast shadows on their rings.

    What's really annoying is that Stellarium (also free) does both of those things very well, but it only allows for existing solar system planets, so neither one quite does everything.
     
  5. blackboxideas macrumors member

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    Oct 17, 2012
    #5
  6. Makosuke thread starter macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
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    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #6
    Actually, it's almost as easy as modifying Celestia's parameters; easier depending on what you're trying to do, since the config file spells out all the parameters for the major planets already.

    That's pretty much exactly what I want right there--so thank you greatly for the tip. I got what I wanted set up in Celestia, but Stellarium is much nicer looking.

    The only thing I have to figure out now is how to correctly configure orbital parameters for the Earth's moon (I'm using Earth for the framework), which unfortunately by default uses a custom orbital calculation.
     

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