Generating Solar Systems

My brother Matt Burdick was more into Traveller than I was when we were kids. One of the things he did while he was in college was to put together a program that generated random solar systems based on Bode’s Law, among other things. It’s made him sort of famous, at least on the web. Mark Stock has his version and Matt’s on his World Builder Page. Some other versions can be found at Stars, Planets, & Stuff. Ian Burrell made an Applet of it. He also has zip archives of both Matt’s versions, and Jon Leech’s version. C. Burke also has an applet of it, but it doesn’t seem to work with the current version of Java. Jim Burrows has a version he calls Stargen. The diagram of the Tau Ceti system below was generated by Stargen. The Astrographer page has a more recent (2011) discussion of the whole issue. The Worldbuilder’s Journal also had some nice things to say (2011).

tau ceti system


About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
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3 Responses to Generating Solar Systems

  1. Astrographer says:

    Matt Burdick’s your brother? Cool! I’ve been trying to hunt him down since the mid-90s. Not continuously, and it has gotten a bit half-hearted. Still, very cool.

    I still use a lot of the formulae dragged out of his code. Of course, since I’m more interested in deliberate world building at the moment than random generation, I don’t use Accrete much anymore, but I am working on a sort of planet _calculator_. That will still recycle a lot of Matt’s code.

    The way I’ve been doing things lately, I’m ambitious to hope for a release date on my calculator some time before men walk on Mars!

    • lostdelights says:

      Yep, I’ll get you in touch with him. I always love to see those sorts of programs. Somewhere I’ve got the galactic coordinates for several thousand of the nearest systems, in hopes of finding a decent 3-d system navigation system. That would need not only the coordinates of the stars, but also their relative movement compared to Sol, so that one could turn the Galactic clock forward and back and see where they were or will be. The other issue would be estimating a distribution ratio for types of stars in the Core and the arms, since the further we go from Sol, the less stars we actually see, and we would need to populate distant areas with randomly generated stars as well as planets. As soon as you finish that planet calculator, let me know if you want more information about that project. 🙂

    • Matt says:

      It’s nice to see my old code still living and being forked 20+ years later! I’m going to have to check out some of these implementations.

      BTW, you can reach me at “matt” at outlook dot com.

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