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[Public WebGL] prototype Earth in Sapce visualization for learning about seasons




This is some work I am doing to help middle-schools students better understand both seasons and the orbital mechanics of the Earth.


I'd love to hear any reactions folks have to the 3D UI or ways of improving the support of the visualization for experimentation.

I was having trouble with the spherical geometry for my view of the Earth Surface and extended the my Earth in Space Latitude/Longitude prototype to help me debug these issues.

http://visual-demos.dev.concord.org/seasons/earth/latitude-line-test.html

I'm using SceneJS and the source code is located here: https://github.com/stepheneb/seasons

Specifically I was having a hard time calculating the position in the sky for the Sun for a specific location on the Earth as it rotated.

I've solved that problem now and in doing so the Lat/Lon prototype has turned into a better experimental tool.

Here are two five minute screencasts showing how the Lat/Lon prototype can be used for experimentation:

  Part 1: http://www.screencast.com/t/IhgmVHtkwl
  Part 2: http://www.screencast.com/t/DxlYCG6sQ1

The keyboard commands have been extended and modified:

Either drag with the mouse or use the arrow keys to change the location you are viewing from.

Use the control key along with the up or down arrow keys to move closer or further away.

Use the shift key along with the left or right arrow keys to change the direction you are facing.

Use the alt or option key along with the arrows keys to adjust the latitude or longitude lines.

You can turn on or off

* square or rose grids in the orbital plane.
* indicator lines showing the sunset/sunrise or noon/midnight transitions
* one or many rays from the Sun
* hour markers on the latitude line

You can also increase the brightness of the light on the back side of the Earth to better see the geography at night.

There is now a display of the Date and for the indication Latitude/Longitude location the solar time, altitude of the Sun above the horizon, and the direct solar radiation on the surface of the Earth.



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