Universe 3D simulation

This is a graphical 3D simulation of the orbital mechanics of the planetary motion in the solar system and galaxy. It specifically concentrates on the phenomenon related to the sun, moon and the earth. The different phenomenon that can be shown in the simulation are --

After the simulation starts, the sun can be seen at the origin with all the planets rotating about their own axis and revolving around the sun (see Fig. 1). It makes the user feel that he is sitting in a space ship. The space ship can be moved to any point in the simulated 3D space and can look in any direction using mouse or keyboard. Thus a view from any angle and any distance is possible. Mutually tilted orbital of the earth and the moon can be beautifully seen as the observer navigates above and below the orbital planes. The shadow of the moon can be seen racing over the surface of the earth during a Total Solar Eclipse. During a Total Lunar Eclipse, the moon can be seen going totally in the shadow of the earth. Both, the Umbra and the Penumbra can be seen. Total as well as Annular eclipses can be shown, since the orbit of the moon is elliptical.

The program also shows our position in our galaxy and the orientation of the plane of the solar system to the plane of the galaxy. The user can zoom out and see a huge galaxy appearing on the screen. This is shown in the last screen shot on this page. The insignificance of the humans, the earth and the solar system can be easily felt.

The program makes extensive use of Vector Algebra , solid geometry and some calculus for the 3D calculation. I have independently derived formulae for rotation of points along a given axis, perspective projection, finding hidden points, finding points in shadow, etc, and have my own small rendering library.


Download the program from sourceforge.net here.
The program requires GTK+ runtime environment on Windows. You can download it here

Following are some of the snapshots of the simulation

Fig 1. Our Solar system

Fig 2. The Sun, Moon and the Earth

Fig 3. The Umbra and the penumbra of the moon falling on the earths surface as the moon passes the descending node

Fig 4. Partial Lunar eclipse

Fig 5. Total Lunar eclipse along with the mutually inclined orbital planes of the earth and the moon.

Fig 6. Total Lunar eclipse (another view)

Fig 7. No Lunar eclipse at this point in the earths orbit since the moon is far above the orbital plane of the earth

Fig 8. The boundary between the day and night hemispheres cutting the latitudes. You can see some latitudes around the North pole in total darkness

Fig 9. The Earth's orbital plane and the Moon's orbital plane

Fig 10. The Moon's orbital plane rotates about ever 18 years creating the saros cycle

Fig 11. The Edge-On view of our galaxy