Become a Celestial Mechanic!

"My Solar System" from Michael Dubson at the University of Colorado provides a hands-on workshop for investigating celestial mechanics.

Ever had an interest in celestial mechanics? Then you have hours of fun in store from “My Solar System,” a celestial mechanics simulator from Michael Dubson at the University of Colorado. The web-based Java application includes a wide variety of preset simulations:

  • Three body mechanics (sun-planet-moon and sun-planet-comet),
  • Multiple planets,
  • Trojan asteroids,
  • Gravitational slingshots,
  • and more!

I enjoy introducing perturbations and seeing how long it takes for worlds to collide. Trying to set up your own stable simulations can be challenging as well. The application also shows vividly how numerical error influences simulation accuracy. The application includes a slider bar to enable a user to control the trade off between a fast but low accuracy simulation or a slow but high accuracy simulation.

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