I frequently refer to the JPL Small-Body Database Browser for information on asteroids and comets. The website has brand new visualization software that beautifully displays the orbits of asteroids and comets, and allows you to zoom and rotate-around easily using the mouse – the same way as in NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System.
So what’s the first thing I did when I found out about this? I searched for my wife’s asteroid: 117852 Constance:
You can set the date from 1600-2199, select which major solar system bodies you’d like to see, take screen-shots, and view a time-lapse of the body orbiting the Sun. About the only thing the new tool does not have (and I wish it did) is the ability to capture a short animated-GIF when you play-forward a time-lapse.
“The primary developer, Kevin Gill, deserves the major credit for this new tool.”
– Dr. Alan B. Chamberlin/JPL
Kevin: Good Job! I had to stop myself from playing with the new tool several times as I was writing this post…
Here’s the orbits of a couple more interesting bodies: