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The Question

(Submitted October 27, 1997)

I'm trying to find information on how to calculate the positions of planets from any point on Earth at any time on earth.

I know that software exists to do just this. However, I would like to write my own and compare it to the others.

The Answer

Calculating the motions of the planets is a simple exercise in integrating the equations of motion. In principle, this can be done with reference only to an introductory physics text if you don't already know how to write down the equations. In reality, there are already lots of books and programs which can solve this problem, or tell you how. A good place to start is:

http://www.astro.uu.nl/~strous/AA/en/reken/hemelpositie.html

I hope this helps!

Tim Kallman
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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