I would like to work with solar system planet orbits in a Geographic Information Software like QGIS, so:

Are available to download the orbits of solar system planets in some vector format?


Specifically, I would like to see planet orbits scaled to the size of a city, similar to the video below, but adding the planet orbits to a map in a tool like QGIS, to be able to play with scale, planets positions, etc..

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    $\begingroup$ There are a lot of different resources described in answers to Where can I find/visualize planets/stars/moons/etc positions? (in Astronomy Stack Exchange) The two I use are JPL's Horizons website and the Python package Skyfield. Either will give you state vectors (x, y, z, vx, vy, vz) for solar system objects in several solar-system and Earth based coordinate systems. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ Here's a short tutorial for the Horizons interface. If you add more specifics to your question those may be answerable as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @uhoh for the references. As you suggested, I have added more specifics to the question. $\endgroup$
    – Pin
    Aug 13, 2020 at 12:17

1 Answer 1


There are a few different ways you can get this information, depending on exactly what you want.

Horizons is a good way to just get the relative positions of the planets. You can query it, download a set, and get the data you need via that tool pretty easily. If you have a limited range of time scales for this, that is probably your best bet.

If you want a more long term system, or more accurate, I suggest downloading the planet spice kernels and generating the data locally. There are a number of libraries which read SPICE kernels, I know of at least one for C and Python. Looking at it, it seems Fortran, IDL, Java, and Matlab are also options. You can read all about it at the NASA NAIF website, and get the kernels specifically from this page.


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