The Simple Artificial Solar Systems package is a zip archive containing a set of thirty different Java programs (created using Easy Java Simulations) that simulate the night sky for fictitious solar systems. Each simulation illustrates the motion of a "Sun" and some "planets" relative to a fixed background of stars.

Students can use these simulations to make qualitative and quantitative observations of the solar and planetary motions. These observations can then be used to construct models (Ptolemaic, Copernican, Tychonic, etc) for that solar system. Handouts for these projects are provided as supplementary documents.

All of the solar systems were constructed such that all planets orbit in a common plane around the central "Sun". All orbits are circular, and thus the planets move uniformly on their orbits. This makes the geometry of the models much simpler.

Included in the zip archive is a spreadsheet giving the required data for each system. Instructors who want their students to complete the projects individually should assign the 30 solar systems at random and privately document which solar system (by number) each student receives. Change the name of the solar system file from "ejs_YourSolarSystem01.jar" to "StudentNameSolarSystem.jar" (using the actual names of your students, of course) and then distribute the files to your students. That way your students will not know which system they have, so even if they get a copy of the solar system data file they will not be able to determine the data for their solar system without doing the necessary work (unless they want to rely on a 1 in 30 chance of guessing correctly).

Please note that this resource requires
at least version 1.5 of
Java (JRE).

Sample Fictitious Solar System
This JAR file is one example of the kinds of programs contained in the Simple Fictitious Solar Systems package. It is ready to run and (unlike the programs in the package) it can be loaded into Easy Java Simulations for editing. download 1009kb .jar
Published: January 3, 2013

Handouts for Project on Observing the Solar System
This zip archive contains a handout describing a project in which students observe and measure the apparent motions of the sun and planets in their fictitious solar system. Also included is a grading rubric for this project. Both documents are provided in LaTeX and PDF formats. download 137kb .zip
Published: January 4, 2013

Handouts for Project on Ptolemaic Modeling
This zip archive contains a handout describing a project in which students construct a Ptolemaic model of their fictitious solar system. Also included is a grading rubric for this project. Both documents are provided in LaTeX and PDF formats. download 122kb .zip
Published: January 4, 2013

Handouts for Project on Copernican Modeling
This zip archive contains a handout describing a project in which students construct a Copernican model for their fictitious solar system. Also included is a grading rubric for this project. Both documents are provided in LaTeX and PDF formats. download 119kb .zip
Published: January 4, 2013

Source Code for the Sample Fictitious Solar System This zip archive contains the source code for the sample fictitious solar system program. However, this source code is set to produce a program that will not allow the model to be loaded into Easy Java Simulations for editing. This prevents any students familiar with …
This zip archive contains the source code for the sample fictitious solar system program. However, this source code is set to produce a program that will not allow the model to be loaded into Easy Java Simulations for editing. This prevents any students familiar with EJS from determining orbital parameters simply by examining the EJS model.

T. Timberlake, Computer Program SIMPLE FICTITIOUS SOLAR SYSTEMS, Version 1.0 (2013), WWW Document, (https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12569&DocID=3161).

T. Timberlake, Computer Program SIMPLE FICTITIOUS SOLAR SYSTEMS, Version 1.0 (2013), <https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12569&DocID=3161>.

Timberlake, T. (2013). Simple Fictitious Solar Systems (Version 1.0) [Computer software]. Retrieved December 8, 2019, from https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12569&DocID=3161

Timberlake, Todd. "Simple Fictitious Solar Systems." Version 1.0. https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12569&DocID=3161 (accessed 8 December 2019).

%0 Computer Program %A Timberlake, Todd %D January 3, 2013 %T Simple Fictitious Solar Systems %7 1.0 %8 January 3, 2013 %U https://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=12569&DocID=3161

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This simulation and its associated activities will help student understand how to construct a Ptolemaic model of a solar system from observational data.

This simulation and its associated activities will help student understand how to construct a Ptolemaic model of a solar system from observational data.

This simulation and its associated activities will help students understand how to construct a Copernican model of a solar system from observational data.