World Builders™
World Builders™
Session One   --  Links   
Session One   --  Links   

    Creating Your Solar System
    Creating Your Solar System

Get Help!

Ask an Astronomer Graduate Students at the Lick Observatory answer questions from K-12 student, teachers, and the general public. Archives of many answered questions make this a treasury of information! The site includes many useful links.

Ask a Space Scientist  Dr. Sten Odenwald answers some of your questions about stars, galaxies, and the planets. There is an extensive archive of answered questions. Image library included.

Ask an Astronomer Kindly scientists at Cornell University answer our questions about planets, stars, etc. The site includes helpful archives of answered questions and a special secion for teachers.

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Astronomy Courses and Informational Pages

The Astronomy Cafe "The web site for the astronomically disadvantaged" by Dr Sten Odenwald. An award winning site with links to many resources. A CD-ROM is available for $25 plus postage. Don't miss this site!

Professor Nick Strobel's Astronomy Notes are just what world builders long for! His introduction to astronomy is clearly written for the general reader, with diagrams and explanations. His chapters about stars and planets are most helpful. Chapters 5, 8, 10, and 16 are must reads for world builders!

Dr Jim Brau: A wonderful astronomy course about our Solar System

Dr Jim Brau: Excellent information on Stars.

A Guide to Our Universe:  Good accessible information on the universe, featuring the life cycle of stars, our own sun, and the planets in our solar system.

The Origin of the Solar System:  Excellent text information about the formation of our planets, the fate of early atmospheres, movement in the protoplanetary disk, temperatures and gases.  Very good background information for teachers.

Star Child: A learning center for young astronomers.
Short, attractive, and instructive pages about the solar system, the universe, the history of human space exploration, etc. Gorgeous pictures, searchable index, glossary, links, games, two levels of information, special printable pages. Check this one out!

Properties of Our Solar System: with lecture notes, diagrams, links, and "details of the individual surfaces of various planets and moons in the solar system.". Short, clear explanations. Definitely a "must see" site!

Take a tour of the sun! This is a pleasant trip, suitable for people of all ages.

Stellar Evolution and Death: from the NASA Observatorium: An excellent set of page on the life cycles of different sizes of stars. Fine diagrams and clear explanations.

Information on what happens inside stars and how elements are made there.

A nice diagram of a binary system that might have planets. Be sure to check this page if you plan to have more than one star in your system!
NASA Resources List of Projects about the Solar System, the Universe, etc.

Alpha Centauri A Candidate for Terrestrial Planets And Intelligent Life. Read this to discover the characteristics that life-bearing planets must have.

Calvin J Hamilton's wonderful PlanetScapes. " a vivid multimedia adventure unfolding the splendor of the Sun, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and more". Available in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and English.  Read Copyright Information please.

The Speed of Light
Stars and Galaxies -- a hypertext on-line course

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Information with Lots of Images

The Nine Planets by Bill Arnett has information about our solar system It is an impressive tour with text, audio and video! Try it, you'll enjoy it!

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (see previous site) has a list of facts on the planets, including mass, density, radius, and temperature, that may be helpful to you. There is also a photo gallery with many links and images

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Pictures beautiful images!

Archive of astronomy picture of the day. There are many interesting images here!
Space Images from NASA and elsewhere.

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Interactive Solar Systems and Star System Pages   

Celestia:  Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A 'point-and-goto' interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit.

Astronomy Workshop Tools:  A set of animations of various orbiting bodies, planets and moons.  There is a lot of information here, some of it suitable for high school and university physics classes, some great for demos for elementary classrooms.  Some highlights are on the pages below:
Design Your Solar System: World Builders, use this!!!  Put in some basic information and find out if your planets will support life!  
Solar System Viewer:
Animated solar system with inner planets, outer planets, asteroids, Kuyper Belt bodies and comets.  Enjoy!
Extrasolar Planets: models of seven stars with real planetary systems detected by scientists.

Ancient Suns: This site gives us information on our closest neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri, which is actually a set of three stars bound together in a system by gravitational forces. It also shows us the orbits of three extra-solar planets that have been discovered by scientists, and shows the orbits of these planets in comparison with our own solar system. There is also a Viewing Cube animation of nearby stars which shows that we really do live in 3D space. Also included are some beautiful space scenes painted by this artist (respect copyright, please) and views of the night skies from other locations than our earth. There are also two software programs that you can download.

Explore the Solar System by The Exploratorium has an applet that shows the planets and other components of our solar system from a number of different perspectives. At the end of the presentation the viewer is able to tilt and rotate the solar system and see it from many different view points. Fun!

Many Moons shows groups of moons interacting according to the laws of gravity. Watch them go -- and notice that some wind up being ejected from the system and going off into space alone. This can happen with planets, too!

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Binary Stars and Planets

Gravitational Interactions:  Links to Java applets show an interesting variety of possible orbits under many situations, such as more than one planet in the same orbit, planetary orbits in systems with binary stars, and planets moving in three dimensional space.  Java code and mathematical information are available, but you can enjoy the simulations and get the main ideas of the movements even if you do not have the mathematical background to understand the formulas and calculations.

Space by Simon Edgeworth: Featuring new stable orbits for planets, including the rounded-square orbit, the ice-cream-spoon orbit, and many more.  There are good diagrams, some java animations, and commentary to help us to understand what we are looking at.  The orbits simulated range from the simple to the complex, so choose one that you understand for your own planetary system!

Astrometric Binaries This page from an astronomy course has good information about binary stars.  Diagrams are excellent, and the material is presented with text, diagrams, and formulae, so that it is easy to understand.  The math is user friendly, and allows adventurous planet builders to figure out masses and distances if they wish.  There is information on how binary stars are discovered and studied, and links to further pages.

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Help With Planet Construction

Build Your Own Solar System.  Use this interactive page to check the orbits of your planets and whether or not they will sustain life.

Universe Program: download for PC. Will generate star fields, nebulae, etc. Easy to use, pretty results. Pay shareware fee for more features.

An excellent page that will help you with orbits using Kepler's and Newton's laws..
Discussion of Roche's Limit with the math by Bill Drennon of Central Valley Christian High School, Visalia, CA. A good, clear presentation.

Powers of Ten:  This excellent interactive program will help you to get a sense of the relative sizes and distances of things in the universe in the world from the Milky Way to your DNA.  Don't miss this one!

Kepler's Laws explained by Bill Drennon Central Valley Christian High School, Visalia, CA. Diagrams and animations. Additional pages on Newton's Laws. Very well explained.

The Astronomy Workshop has moving solar system viewers and calculators and help with orbits. Try out your worlds in Build Your Own Solar System so that you can see how the orbits work. Check out the Solar System Collisions to study asteroid impacts!

Spectral Type G - Tau Ceti an interesting page about the habitable life zone around a near-by star.  This will help you with laying out your solar system.

Terranova randomly generates a planet each day. Come and visit!

The Lunar Institute of Technology provides a Planet Creation kit that will draw simple maps and estimate temperatures for you at this site.

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Inconstant Moon: will take you on a new tour each night, with maps, photos, explanations, animations, selected links and even music! Excellent!
The Moon by Zoom Astronomy is easy to read, easy to understand, and has a lot of information! There is also information on the solar system with its planets, moons, and asteroids. You will enjoy this friendly site.
Panoramas of the Moon Nothing beats being there! This site has six panoramas of the moon shot by the astronauts. They really put you in the picture! Find out what the visitor might see and experience virtual panoramas from this site. Go to the home page of this site to explore other areas of interest, including a good section on the origin of the moon.

     Satellite/Moon Viewer  Amazing, exciting animations of moons in our Solar System:

Earth and our moon, 
Mars and its two small moons,
Jupiter and three sets of moons: inner moons, Galilean moons and outer moons
Saturn with inner, middle, and outer sets of moons (moons, rings, and the Roche Limit)
Uranus with its inner, classical, and outer moons
Neptune with Naiad-Proteus and Triton-Nereid moons
Pluto and Charon

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The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table Yinon Bentor's Periodic Table site will give you useful information about the chemical elements. The site includes diagrams of the atoms. Helpful and attractive site!

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Copyright © 1996,1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003. Elizabeth Anne Viau. All rights reserved. This material may be used by individuals for instructional purposes but not sold. Please inform the author if you use it at