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So I Decided to Program a Solar System Simulator


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Presented at FITC Toronto 2017
More info at

Presented by Martin Vézina, La Grange

This is the story of how a Javascript experiment, a solar system simulation in the browser, became a t-shirt through a successful Kickstarter. It started as a pet project, which Martin thought was of little value beyond his own entertainment, and it turned into something that he had not envisioned.

Martin will describe what he went through to make this very unusual project. It involves a lot of different things from NASA’s open data, Three.js, Adobe Illustrator scripting, vector drawing and manipulation through code, plus all the unforeseen difficulties and how he overcame them – often through street-smart programming. Oh, and he’ll talk about orbital mechanics.


Display some techniques used in order to make this 3d browser experiment and how he ported it to 2D vector graphics.

Target Audience

Geeks. He’ll discuss Javascript, orbital mechanics, webgl, geometry, history of spaceflight, pet projects, Kickstarter, etc.

Five Things Audience Members Will Learn

How orbits work & how Apollo got to the Moon
Some bits about Three.js, Illustrator scripting, vector drawing in Javascript
That the internet is full of amazing data with which you can do amazing stuff
That it is possible to combine many of your interests in a single project
To go with the flow… you never know what it will bring

Published in: Internet
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So I Decided to Program a Solar System Simulator

  1. 1. autopsy of an unconventional project or how a Javascript experiment became a t-shirt
  2. 2. jsOrrery a personal project part one
  3. 3. if I’m going to waste my time might as well waste it 
 doing something fun
  4. 4. gravitational constant = 6.67408 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2
  5. 5. Saturn radius = 1.429 billion km orbit circumference = 8.979 billion km period = 10759.22 d velocity = 9650 m/s
  6. 6. Flash version
  7. 7. positioning the
 planets accurately it’s not black magic
  8. 8. Canvas in 2D
  9. 9. adding a dimension making use of the data I had
  10. 10. a shitload of stars because why not
  11. 11. Stars on sphere
  12. 12. Apparent retrograde
  13. 13. the Moon a troublesome fellow
  14. 14. eclipse 2017
  15. 15. simulating Apollo the final milestone
  16. 16. Apollo 8
  17. 17. the end
 of my journey or so I thought
  18. 18. spacetime coordinates a kickstarter part two
  19. 19. once again,
 back to my old code oh my, do we evolve as programmers
  20. 20. drawing the orbits an ellipse is an ellipse
  21. 21. simple is beautiful sometimes good enough is the best thing you can ask for
  22. 22. now to Illustrator that retard is still es3
  23. 23. gradient strokes not as simple as it seems
  24. 24. finetuning the crap we have to put up with 
 when dealing with designers
  25. 25. adding the details a formality
  26. 26. batching: the real test shit hits the fan
  27. 27. it worked
  28. 28. fulfillment not my damn problem
  29. 29. the result
  30. 30. lessons what I got from this
  31. 31. don’t be afraid of not knowing there’s a beauty to imperfection
  32. 32. the destination is not what counts it’s the unexpected that makes a trip memorable
  33. 33. fun stuff can be serious your pet projects might be more valuable than you think
  34. 34. thank you @m_vezina