I am currently constructing a fantasy world, where the sun and moon revolve around the planet, which itself is stationary. Because of this, it is quite difficult to imagine how the climate zones would differ from our Earth (where would it be naturally colder and warmer in the geography). I am looking for a program (app, website, software, whatever) which would let me create 3D images and could have simulated light sources, that could help me determine how much sunlight would reach each continent, island, plot of land.

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    $\begingroup$ Given that physics doesn't work that way, this may be a tough request. $\endgroup$
    – CaM
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @CaM given "where the sun and moon revolve around the planet", the planet would likely look an awful lot like Classical Greece... ;D $\endgroup$
    – akaioi
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, Sun-orbits-Earth and Earth-orbits-Sun are functionally identical. The difference is just your choice of the point of reference. The problems with geocentric came when people tried to figure how other planets orbit Earth when they quite simply do not. So you just simulate planet orbiting a star and say "the sun orbits the planet" and your done. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'm very curious to know how you've constructed a system with a stationary planet. Generally speaking, the most massive object in a system is the one that moves the least. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ Arcanist Lupus, this is not really a system. This is a planet, which rests on a giant's shoulders, so it can't really move. So the sun and moon have to revolve around it. Btw, the sun in this world is not a star, it's a conscious deity, which is just really bright. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 18:50

4 Answers 4


This is a very complicated subject

And I'm not sure anyone has written a program to do everything you asked for. Bits and pieces have been written and polished but there's no cohesive project that does everything you're asking for.

Universe Sandbox

If you have a PC with Steam installed, you can use Universe Sandbox to setup as many strange orbital configurations as you desire. There's some climate modeling done but probably not to the fidelity that you are looking for.

This is probably your best bet for covering lots of ground in a single package. I'd start here.


The MIT Global Climate Model (MITgcm) will allow you to do the kind of simulation you require with really high fidelity to real life. However, MITgcm is real scientific software thus making it unapproachable to anyone who doesn't have a degree in atmospheric sciences.

Having played around with MITgcm, I've learned that climate, atmospheric, and oceanographic modeling with real fidelity is very complicated and not for the faint of heart.


Blender is an open source 3D modeling program. It will only allow you to build a 3D model of a planet. You can animate it from there to get the views you want.


Spreadsheets are your friend. I've written spreadsheets for myself to figure out the hours of daylight for a planet that's tilted over 90 degrees.

Your Brain

Do a bunch of research into climate models, biomes, the relationship of water availability and temperature. As you get more familiar with these subjects, you'll be able to look at a map, figure out some ocean currents and prevailing winds then derive the overall climate for that location.

Climate is very complicated and requires a lot of background knowledge to get right. Start reading everything you can on the subject. Good luck! It's a really fun area to go exploring.

  • $\begingroup$ An excellent suite of resources, but it can be improved by adding links. I would suggest reading a few text books on geography to fuel your Your Brain approach. Nicely informative. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android fair enough. Links added. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ Much appreciated. You need to wait for your reward in Heaven when it can become available on the Earthly plane. Plus one. Can I suggest you write up a blog post about how to create spreadsheets for the hours of daylight on tilted planets? That would be a useful resource. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 1:03

Universe Sandbox might help. It's basically a solar system simulator, on steroids :)

It'd help you establish the orbits and positions of the bodies and the light patterns of the day/night cycles. It's not a planet simulator as such, so I don't think you can drill down into too much detail on the planetary conditions, it'll report and simulate things like temperature and gravity but it'll treat the entire planet equally, I don't think you can break it down into different climate zones.

  • $\begingroup$ have you tried it? Is it possible to build a star system from scratch and test different configurations? They do not have a demo version and website is not very helpful. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Olga yes I've used it a bit, my son is really into it though and I frequently watch him. Yes it's possible to build a solar system from scratch or modify our own (ever seen our system with a dozen Hot Jupiters ? fun times) It's got a great user community as well where people build and exchange scenarios. Great value, highly recommended. There's loads of youtube videos about it, they'll give you a good idea what it's capable of. $\endgroup$
    – Jack Judge
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ thank you. I'll give it a try. And I will definitely experiment with Jupiters :) $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 13:20

Adding to the already existing answers and seconding Universe Sandbox which is amazing:

PlaSim is another tool for scientific-level climate simulation at home. However it requires good meteorological knowledge, work, and patience if you want to tweak it to your desires.



Actually I think the answer is simpler than you may think. If the sun and moon revolve around the earth the effect is EXACTLY THE SAME as it is currerntly - the moon has the same tidal effects as it does now, and the sun has the same effect as it does now but at a greater distance.

Thinks about it this way. Assume that the earth stopped rotating around the sun (and didn't fall in because gravity got fired) -- but it kept rotating AROUND ITSELF.

From the earth peoples point of view they experience exactly what you said -- the sun and the moon orbit around us. So, the solar coverage is the same and the effects on terrain are the same.

The main difference is that if the sun stays on the same plane, there are no seasons. Assuming the suns' orbit is on the same plane all the time, part of the earth gets a lot of sun, and part of it gets less.

There might be an accumulative effect -- a lot of scorched earth, a lot of freezing earth, and a relatively small temperate band of livable terrain.

The stars in your scenario remain fixed. Thats irrelevant to climate but its a thing.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding.SE. When you get a moment, please take our tour and visit our help center to learn more about us. This doesn't actually answer the OP's question. Had you read the comments, you would have discovered (a) that this point had already been made and (b) the OP's fantasy world is not a duplicate of Earth. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented May 1, 2018 at 3:41

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