Solar Journey    download page



An assortment of astronomy-related tool applications and supporting libraries has been developed for the Solar Journey project.  Tools are for both scientific and educational purposes; Libraries that can be utilized to develop astronomy visualization applications.

Selected demos and companion documentations can be downloaded from this site. We also provide source code and compilation scripts or VC project files for cross-platform porting and customization.    


Download demo binaries and document of individual tool application: (the available documentation attempts to provide a reasonable outline of the various applications, but the details of many features are best discovered by working through the options in the user interface)

  Standard License Txt: please read before downloading listings from this site.

earthday download page  

Earth-centered visualization tool for real-time satellite data and planetary trajectories.

starview download page

Utility for visualizing very large-scale astronomical data from solar system to local galaxy groups 

skyalign download page

Accurate interactive alignment of images, photographs and 3D gas cloud models against sky coordinates 

distEdTool download page

Tool for the construction and verification of models representing spectrally absorbing and emitting gas cloud between the Earth and nearby stars.  


Download complete archive of source codes:  


After extraction the zipped archive, the code listing is shown as in following layout: 




Supported Platforms:

We have attempted to make these systems run on as many platforms as possible, focusing particularly on Windows XP and Linux.  SUN/Solaris and SGI/IRIX are supported in principle, but may need adjustment.  The packages compile under Macintosh OSX, but several problems with full portability have been noted that we have not been able to fully resolve; a few have been traced to older NASA-based code that makes false assumptions about byte order and structure order in OSX.


Running applications

Built executables are located in the “demo” directory. Scripts to run each tool application are also provided. The run/run.bat script launches each demonstration with appropriate data files and options. You can change the data files and options to customize your task.  Refer to the scripts for additional examples noted in the comments.


Rebuilding applications

In the  “tools” directory, a unified make script “MakeAll” is provided for rebuilding the packages on Unix/Linux platforms. The script automatically calls the appropriate “make” file for the target platform in the CommonMake directory. Linux, SGI, and Solaris are currently supported; individual installations may require path changes or the addition of missing libraries, e.g., if GLUT is not currently installed.


> MakeAll

will rebuild the entire demonstration system.


> MakeAll starview

etc., will rebuild the named demonstration system.


For Windows platform,  Visual Studio .Net project files are provided for each tool. For a convenient application rebuild,  pre-built static libraries can be linked in  the sub directory  “lib” that matches your target platform.  Libraries can be also rebuilt from source code using a separate “MakeAll” script that is supplied in the “common_package” directory.  On Windows, a Visual Studio .Net Solution file “common_package.sol” is provided as an one-shop-stop project.    




Data Sources:

Planet, and ephemeris data are based on JPL and NASA web sites, including,,

Satellite data are derived from

ISS space station model:

Galaxy information is based on data provided by Brent Tully, University of Hawaii; star data are based on the Hipparcos data set.  The “entropy” software is based on the Gnu gzip package of Jean-loup Gailly.



The Solar Journey software is not intended to be used for either telescope guiding or navigation purposes.



Software development lead: Philip Chi-Wing Fu, Yinggang Li.  Additional documentation: Yinggang Li.  Overall design and scientific design: Andrew J. Hanson and Priscilla C. Frisch.  Supported in part by   “Journey of the Sun” NASA grants  NAG 5-8163, NAG 5-13558, NAG 5-11999, awarded to the University of Chicago with subcontractor Indiana University.