Night Sky with Stars


Foothill College AstroSims

The Foothill Astrosims project, supported by a Foothill College Equity and Innovation Grant, aims to support astronomy education by:

  • Updating existing educational simulations from Flash to Javascript, and
  • Develop new simulations to address topics formerly unsupported by the Astronomy Education community

Our Simulations

We are steadily working on new simulations.  Check here for updates!

Who are we?

  • PI: Geoff Mathews, Ph.D. (
  • Development lead: Baba Kofi Weusijana, Ph.D. (
  • Developers:  Chris Achenbach, Safi Mohammed, Andrew Tran

Other Astronomy Simulations

  • The Nebraska Astronomy Applet Project has a set of simulations covering a wide range of topics in astronomy.  They are Flash-based, and thus rapidly becoming unusable.  However, they have recently posted Windows- and Mac-native versions of the applets to sustain classroom use.  
  • A team at Columbia University has rebuilt several of the UNL simulations in Javascript, and provides useful guidance for carrying out further conversions.  
  • The PhET Simulations, while physics focused, include numerous tools that are helpful for astronomy teaching (for example, Gravity and Orbits).  
  • Open Source Physics has numerous astro-useful simulations in JavaScript.  
  • Star in a Box, by the Las Cumbres Observatories Global Telescope Network, simulates tracking a star's temperature and luminosity over its lifetime.  
  • Planetary climate simulator from the NExSS ROCKE-3D project at NASA Goddard.
  • A different planetary climate simulator, emphasizing geologic processes, from the Earth Life Science Institute.  
  • Impact Earth simulator (Flash)
  • Thomas Moore has written a rotation curve tool allowing one to adjust a three-parameter dark matter distribution model to match observed rotation curves.   
  • Ian Short at St. Mary's University has made an incredibly thorough star + habitable zone simulator, ChromaStar.
  • Super Planet Crash is a game-ified n-body solar system simulator in which one can explore gravitational interactions between planets.  
  • 100,000 Stars, a visualization of about 100,000 nearby stars (plus some artistic license on larger scales).  Note, it doesn't appear to make use of color or luminosity information, only position and distance.
  • Javalab is now defunct.  However, the code is available and Chris Mihos welcomes reimplementations (with credit, of course!)
  • Some of the sample models included with Netlogo address astronomy relevant topics (e.g., motion of particles in a gas).  This modeling tool is also designed with an easy on-ramp for developing ones own simple  simulations (the first alpha version of the Dark Matter simulation was thrown together on a half hour bus ride in Netlogo, building on the Circles sample model)
David Marasco

We're Here to Help!

David Marasco, Dept. Chair


Office Room 4405