Sorry, you need Java to view this simulation


1) Use checkboxes (Seconds, Minutes, etc) to choose time interval. Depending on the period and location of the comet you're following, "Days," "Months," or even "Years" may work best for animation. Use slidebar at left to control simulation speed. There are 7 speeds, 3 forward (right), 3 reverse (left) and one neutral (center), although depending on your computer speed, there may be no difference between the two faster speeds. The bar is initially set at the slowest forward speed. Use "Reset Time" to return to present.

2) The "Zoom" slide bar controls the field of view, ranging from 461 AU (the Kuiper belt) to 2.3 AU (the inner planets).

3) The "Angle" slide bar controls the viewing angle, initially set to 90 degrees above the ecliptic.

4) The "Comets" slide bar controls the number of comets in the simulation. Depending on your machine, more comets will slow the simulation. The famous comets are the first to be displayed (Halley, Encke, Swift-Tuttle, Hale-Bopp, Hyakutake, etc.) NB: Since most of these are relatively long period, running the simulation backwards will bring them into the inner solar system much more quickly. Encke is included among the earliest comets to be displayed because it has a short (about 3 year) period, and you don't have to wait as long for it to show up.

5) The "Orbits" button will cause the orbital paths of the planets and comets to be displayed. Depending on how many comets are running, this can really slow down the simulation.

6) Placing the cursor over a planet or comet will cause some information about that object to be displayed. Clicking on the object will cause that information to remain displayed. Clicking again on the object will cease the display of the information.

7) The brightness of the comet symbol and orbit is proportional to the greatest magnitude of the comet.

8) There is still a problem with the local time - it does not take into account the shift to/from Daylight Savings Time, and so may be off by an hour. Universal Time will always be correct.

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October, 2012