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Solar System 3D Gravitator

Solar System 3D Gravitator is an accurate 3D simulator of the solar system allowing the user to view the solar system from any angle in the past and in the future. Any solar system planet, asteroid or comet is accurately accounted for, using up-to-date orbital data. The future is modelled using Newton's law of universal gravitation. This means you can for example predict the encounters between 99942 Apophis and the Earth in 2029.

But that is not all: You can also create imaginary objects and investigate which effect they have to the other planets. For example, what would happen if the Sun suddenly became a binary star with a smaller dwarf star? Would the Earth lose the Moon? Try it and find out!

Windows and Linux

Solar System 3D Gravitator is available for both Windows and Linux (K)ubuntu 8.04. The functionality is the same on Windows and Linux.

Windows screenshot

Linux screenshot

Features description

When you start the program, you will be presented with the major objects in the solar system, i.e. the Sun and all planets (including Pluto). First, spend a little time learning how to rotate and zoom in 3D.

Rotation and Zooming

The main way rotation and zooming is preformed, is using the right mouse button (RMB). Hold down the RMB and drag the mouse around inside the graphics window, release RMB when satisfied. Imagine that you are controlling a virtual 'trackball' on the screen, it is quite easy.

Rotating with mouse around screen x,y and z

Rotation about the horizontal (x) screen axis is done by vertical mouse movements. Rotation about the vertical (y) axis is done by horizontal movements. Obviously, you can rotate around both axes at the same time using suitable diagonal movements.

The above works within a virtual circle that extends from top to bottom of the graphics window. To rotate around the screen axis (pointing inwards), use the areas in the corners and drag 'tangentally' around the centre of the screen.

Predefined view angles

You can also use the predefined rotation angles by choosing the options in the View menu or toolbar buttons. These options also have keyboard shortcuts as shown in the View menu.


Use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Observe that the default is that the program is 'autotracking' on the Sun, so zooming will then be towards/from the sun. But you can set the autotracking (in the toolbar) to lock on any other object, or none at all. When no object is set as aoutracking object, zooming will always be focused on the mouse position.

Start gravity simulation

This is very easy. Set the start date in the left panel, press the "Set start date" button. The planets and other objects will be repositioned accordingly. Then press the 'Gravitate!' button to start simulation. Watch how the planets move around and leave fading orbits behind. Rotate and zoom to get a better feeling for distances, angles between rotation planes etc.

Add more objects

Watching the solar system only is quite instructive, but it gets more fun if you add some asteroids and/or comets. To do that you must first download some asteroids and comet orbit data. To do that, use the leftomost download button in the toolbar.

After downloading asteroids and comet orbit data, use the next button on the toolbar to manage objects. There you can add asteroids and comets by selecting the ones you want and press Apply. You can also use the more advanced 'Add Single Object' where you can pick high precision objects from the NASA/JPL Small-Body Database browser and get the detailed orbital elements. Obviously, you can also edit these values directly to create imaginary objects. These values are saed to small XML files for later use, or exchange with other users of the program. An example XML file is the Planetary_Nemesis.xml, it will create quite interesting effects if you simulate with it! Use the 'Restore..' button on the 'Add Single Object' tab to simulate with it.



Linux : Unrestricted. Purchasing a licence is voluntary and optional.

Windows: 30 day free trial. After that a licence must be purchased to continue.


Installation package OS/Architecture Architecture For OS distro
solsysgrav-1.0-06-linux-2.6-i386.deb Debian Linux 2.6 .deb 32bit i386 Built with Kubuntu 8.04
SolSysGrav_setup_1.0-6.exe Windows .exe Win32 Win2000,XP,Vista