I've found just what you're looking for at this site:
It is an interactive sky map of the solar system showing images of all
the planets in relation to each other at any date and time of your
The site is home to a number of cool pages and programs that are
simply things of interest to the author. The introduction to the
solar system map is given here:
"Welcome to Solar System Live, the interactive Orrery of the Web. You
can view the entire Solar System, or just the inner planets (through
the orbit of Mars). Controls allow you to set time and date,
viewpoint, observing location, orbital elements to track an asteroid
or comet, and a variety of other parameters. Click on the title of any
control to display a help page explaining it, or go directly to the
help table of contents. You can compose a request with custom settings
and save the results in your browser's hotlist or bookmark table,
allowing direct access to Solar System Live with all the controls
preset to your own preferences."
[In case your not familiar with the term, an "orrery" is one of those
great old scientific instruments that show all the planets and the sun
in relation to each other...in the best of instruments, all the
planets will move in synch with each other to show their passage over
Make sure to familiarize yourself with some of the other tools at this
site, such as the "Your Sky" program to make star maps, as they may be
of interest as well.
Back to the Orrery page at:
To set it to the date of your choosing, just replace the current date
and time, with a new date and time in the same format
(Year--month--day e.g. 2003-05-26 for May 26, 2003).
Choose "icons" if you want the planets to appear as
astronomical/astrological symbols, or "images" if you prefer
mini-pictures of the planets.
The "size" box controls the size of picutre that is returned...maximum
size is 1024, but I found 512 to give a nice-sized result (you can
pick a larger number for a larger image, but if you go all the way to
1024 it will no longer fit on an 8x10).
I don't think you'll need the other options, but if you have any
questions about them, just ask here by posting a Request for
Clarification, and I'll be happy to assist you with them.
As for printing the image, that's easy, but it also depends on the
particulars of your computer system. If you're in a Windows-based
system, you can right-click on the image and select "Print" from the
pull-down menu. Or, you can click on "File" in your toolbar (at the
very top left-hand corner of the window) and select "Print" from the
Again, if you have any questions about this, just let me know and I'll
be glad to walk you through the printing process.
I hope this is exactly what you were looking for, but if for some
reason it doesn't quite meet your needs, give me a bit more detail
about what you're after, and I'll do my best to track it down for you.
Have fun exploring the solar system.
search strategy: Google search on [ "solar system" chart date planet
Clarification of Answer by
10 Oct 2003 15:59 PDT
Glad you liked this...it's a neat site.
I'm going to look around a bit more regarding your ephemeris question.
I don't see an easy way to do what you want on the fourmilab site,
but...there may be another solution.
One thing you might want to look into is the initial observer
position...where on the earth you are when observing the planets.
These latitutde/longitude settings affect the final ephemeris data.
That is, the way the planets appear in the sky depends an awful lot on
whether you're looking at the sky in my hometown of Washington DC, or
from Sydney, Australia, or from another place on earth. A bit of an
explanation for this can be seen here:
Try adjusting the lat/long to account for your initial position, and
see if that brings the numbers more in line with what you're looking
for. You can get lat/longs for most cities around the world here:
Just click on the country of interest, and take it away. Let me know
if you need any help finding lat/long coordinates.
I'm still going to look into the ephemeris matter in more detail. I
suspect you might have to actually download a sky-mapping program
(many of which are free) to get at this, but I need to check into it.
I'll update you here when I have more info available.
In the mean time, give the lat/longs a try, and let me know how that
Request for Answer Clarification by
13 Oct 2003 15:04 PDT
Hi pafalafa-ga. Okay, I know it is none of my business, but what does
your name mean?!? Only kidding, okay, not really, just curious.
Anyway I am messing with the lats and longs. I use The American
Ephemeris for the 20th Century, revised fifth edition, by Neil F.
Michelsen. I am trying to get my map to coincide with the degrees in
the book.. I have read the introduction, but must admit it is a bit
out of my league. So if you come up with another solution, let me
know. I sooooooo appreciate the original answer and the info has been
a blast to work with. Many thanks!!! vicky7
Clarification of Answer by
13 Oct 2003 16:04 PDT
Wow, Vicky. Thanks so much for...for...everything! It's a pleasure
working with you, and I'm going to continue working on this one to see
if I can come up with additional info to help you out.
Here's a few tidbits, thoughts, and such:
--pafalafa-ga is my mis-remembering of the title of an old, quirky
song. You're not the first to ask, by the way. Take a look at the
comment at the bottom of this question:
and at this entire question:
if you want to know a bit more.
--I don't think there is a program to do just what you're after --
allow input of ephemeris to produce a plot of the planets. However,
I've emailed the author of Solar System Live to ask him -- I'll let
you know what I hear back.
--I'm going to see if I can find a copy of American Ephemeris to find
a way to get data and sky pictures to match up.
--In the mean time, if you want to post the relevant ephemeris here
for the planets, I'll see if I can work with SSL to get it to match
--If there's anything else you'd like me to look into, just let me
know here with a follow up comment, and I'm happy to oblige.
Again, very nice working with you. Hope we'll have a chance again,
one of these days.