Three Tours of the Solar System

If you are watching this video to learn to do the the things I show, it would be best if you work through our Space Travel Tutorial first.

As usual, we recommend that you open the Planetarium in another browser window and follow along. I will be starting from the default settings, so you may want to do that, too. If you do, open the Control Panel and press All Defaults.

If you click on any numbered heading, below, it will play just that section of the video. If you are watching this video as a tutorial, I suggest that you do that for each section and then try the exercises at the end before going on to the next section.

0. Preliminaries.

  1. In this video, we will take three tours of the Solar System using the Dogulean Planetarium, a web page that contains an interactive solar system simulation.
  2. This page,, is the access point for the Planetarium itself and for information about how to use it.
  3. Now let's Enter the Planetarium.
  4. What I mean by a "tour" is that we will visit each planet in the Solar System in turn.
  5. The Planetarium has two modes. In one of them, Space Travel mode, we can visit other planets, so let's get into that mode.
  6. Right-click to open the Control Panel, select Space Travel, and then right click again.
  1. Read the description of the first tour (item (a), below) and then try it on your own, before watching it.


  • For our first tour, we will go to Mercury (select on "H:" menu), then track the Sun (select on "Tr:" menu), and View the Sun. There it is. Then we will back out through the planets, visiting each planet in turn.
  • Venus. Venus is in the way. (Increase altitude by turning mouse wheel over Venus and the roll it out of the way by left-dragging on it.)
  • Earth.
  • The Moon.
  • Mars.
  • Jupiter.
  • Saturn.
  • Uranus is also in the way. (Roll it out of the way the left-dragging on it. Turn on labels by double-clicking.) There is the Sun still, surrounded by the inner planets. close enough to a planet, the info bar for it will appear.
  • Neptune.
  • That completes our first tour. Exercise:
    1. Try the first tour (again) on your own.
    2. Read the description of the second tour and then try it on your own, before watching it.


    1. For our second tour, we will go back in toward the Sun, this time looking at our home planet, the planet we are on or near.
    2. We turn off tracking by selecting "None" on the tracking menu. And press Look Down to see our planet, Neptune. Back away a bit so we can see it better. (Increase altitude by turning the mouse wheel over it. The turn it by left-dragging on it.)
    3. Uranus. We are looking at it from the bottom of its rings and we can see some shadows that the rings cast.
    4. Saturn. Let's back away some more to see the rings. It looks like they droop on the outside, but actually they are quite flat.
    5. Jupiter. And there is the Great Red Spot.
    6. Mars.
    7. Moon.
    8. Earth.
    9. Venus. I could not find an all-planet image of Venus's clouds, so I left it white.
    10. Mercury.
    11. Sun. The Sun is also just a yellow ball.
    12. That completes our second tour.
    1. Try the second tour (again) on your own.
    2. Go back to Uranus and give it a good looking over to see what shadows there are.
    3. Step forward in time by years, once for Uranus and once for Saturn, and see how the shadows change.
    4. Read the description of the third tour and then try it on your own, before watching it.

    3. THIRD TOUR.

    1. For our third tour, let's go outward again, tracking the Earth.
    2. Let's turn off the lines that help us orient ourselves in the sky, by clicking this "Lines" button. We won't need them on this tour. We'll turn off the labels, too, by double clicking the left mouse button.
    3. Let's zoom in for a closer look.
    4. The Earth and Moon look very cozy but that is because in fact they are magnified 40 times, relative to how big they should look in the sky and relative to the distance between them. Right click to open the control panel and then left-click on Planets to open the Planet settings.
    5. According to the Planet Magnification line, Earth and Moon are magnified 40 times relative to their distance, so they look 40 times closer together than they should.
    6. To make their distance realistic, we should turn the planet magnification down to 1 and zoom in instead if we want them to be bigger, because then they will look the right distance apart. But then it is hard to make them easily visible while keeping them both on the screen.
    7. So we will compromise by setting the magnification to 10. (Close the Control Panel by right clicking again.)
    8. Mercury. Earth and Moon look larger from Mercury because it is closer – it is currently on the same side of the Sun.
    9. Venus. Venus is a bit closer than the Sun, but not as close as Mercury, because it us just coming around toward the Earth.
    10. Mars. Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun.
    11. So is Jupiter.
    12. Saturn, too.
    13. Uranus also.
    14. Neptune. (Zoom in bring up Earth's info bar.) The distance from Neptune to the Earth is almost 31 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
    15. That completes our third tour.
    16. Thank you for watching.
    1. Try the third tour (again) on your own.
    2. Go back to whichever planet you like best and turn planet magnification down to 1. Step forward in time day by day or hour by hour and watch as the Moon orbits the Earth. Adjust zoom and direction of view to keep them both onscreen as you do that.