Introduction to the project

ISS Transit email-alert signup page

Project Goals & Stuff ToDo

Technical nitty-gritty

Links & Informational Resources

Source Code

SourceForge project page



The International Space Station (displayed as a gold dot) passing over Barcelona, Spain, on 1 Mar 2003, transiting the sun from the vantage point of Bordeaux, France (red dot), while (invisibly) transiting the moon near Lyon (white dot).


Δ LatSunTr (etc.) is the difference in latitude between the transit spot, and the space station itself (since the moon is a bit west of the sun, its transit location is a bit east of the sun transit).


Below, I zoomed in using the middle-mouse button:


A newer version of WorldView allows you pause the animation, type in a new start time, then resume using the new time (previously, you had to change your system time, then restart the program).  Below, the space station is flying between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Iraq, with the transit spot of the nearly full moon near Mt. Ararat in southeastern Turkey:

Red now marks the moon transit; white marks the sun transit.  The space station passed nearly directly over Washington, DC, just before sunrise, 9 hours earlier.

See Transit matches for Day of Year 78.23 - 87.19 for some additional information.


You can rotate these 3D views to your heart's content: dragging up and down, or right and left, with mouse-left rotates the view correspondingly; mouse-right moves the view; mouse-middle zooms in or out:


Other texture maps are available for download, including the Moon:


Obviously other things could be added to this program, such as an option to display all of the Apollo landing sites.

I've decided to release run-able applications in the form of     JWS eradicates the curse of software distribution, by automatically checking for (and downloading, if needed) updates as they become available.  Simply stated, keeping updated with the latest & greatest release is completely hassle-free!..  and if you're not always connected to the net, it simply runs the latest version it cached on your PC.

Here's the catch: I haven't paid VeriSign or Thawte $250 (a year) for the privilege of making software available to the world for free, so when you first try to run one of these apps, it will sternly point out that I am not Bill Gates, and so you shouldn't trust this stuff (?)  (If that makes you unhappy, don't install the software- or else send me $250, I'll register my signing certificate, and it won't complain about me not being Bill Gates for 12 months.  Or, Bill could just send me all of his money, and I'll pay the $250 myself.)


Ok, there are some other catches... this is a very sophisticated application which requires that you install the sophisticated infrastructure that made it possible for a mere mortal (such as I) to write this, after a few days of exposure to Java 3D.  Here are the prerequisites (all free):

  Download J2SETM v 1.4.1_01 JRE SDK
* Windows (U.S. English only)
* Windows (all languages, including English)

Install into your C:\j2sdk1.4.1 directory (C:\j2sdk1.5.0, etc.) if you downloaded the SDK.  If you only downloaded the JRE, install it in some similar place (which the installation program will likely recommend).

If you have a fairly recent Windows PC, "DirectX" should be faster than the OpenGL version (GL = Graphics Language).  Microsoft's DirectX page is at - you can go there to download the latest & greatest version (at version 9.0, as of this web page update).

Also, if you only installed the JRE, then select the "Runtime" rather than the SDK version.

With j2sdk1.4.1_01 installed in C:\j2sdk1.4.1, Java 3D will install in C:\j2sdk1.4.1\jre\lib\ext (ext = extension).   Sun's documentation says that anything in the "extension" subdirectory is supposed to be automatically added to the classpath- if you don't have the classpath set, or if you put a .\; at the beginning of your classpath.  In order to verify / edit your classpath, what you do (in Windows XP, at any rate) is  Start/ Control Panel/ System :

Since I have a classpath defined, I need to edit it to include .\; at the beginning:

Now click the Ok's till the cows come home, and you're good to go.  Well, almost...

From the Web Start application manager, click on File / Preferences, and make sure that you have only the latest version of Java enabled (if you'd had Web Start installed previously- I'd evidently installed version 1.4.0_01 on two occasions, then deleted them, which is why the program put red boxes around those entries... which now it won't let me remove from the list!):

The biggest part of WorldView are the texture ("Plate Carree") files.  In order to avoid downloading these (see each time the application program is enhanced, you need to create the directory C:\Program Files\Java Web Start\j2ee-consultants\WorldView and download the texture images below (or as many as you'd like) to that directory.  Simply click on a thumbnail and it'll load into a new browser window.  As soon as the image is complete in your browser, right-click the picture and choose "Save Picture As..." then save it to C:\Program Files\Java Web Start\j2ee-consultants\WorldView

Select texture map to download

Be sure the texture files are saved with the .jpg extension; if your PC saves them as .jpeg, they'll be just as good as nothing, as far as WorldView is concerned (if they are saved with the .jpeg extension, simply rename them to .jpg).

You may want to take this opportunity also to create the directory C:\Program Files\Java Web Start\j2ee-consultants\WorldView\trackingElements (the program may create it for you, if you don't... then again, it may not).  This is where the program stores the ISS orbital parameters.

Now (like computer stuff always works the first time), just click on one of the links below.

Run WorldView using

Run SunriseGUI (computes sunrise & sunset based upon latitude & longitude).

And...... I guess I should mention that I recently spent an entire afternoon trying to get this to run on a 3 year-old IBM laptop, which uses Windows Me (because the laptop operates Microsoft's abandoned bastard Cordless Phone, which won't run on any 32-bit Windows, like Windows XP) - it just wouldn't go.

updated 19 Mar 2003