I first stumbled on Xplanet in August, 2005.  I didn’t pay too much attention at first.  Like all good things, I suppose.  It wasn’t until Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana on August 29, that I remembered seeing this haunting and beautiful rendering of earth showing the storm’s path crossing the Atlantic.

I love all types of maps: hyper-local to universal; ancient to modern.  Maps aren’t solely a navigational tool.  They tell a story – someone’s interpretation of a place during a particular point in time based on information and data.  And if the map-maker is able to balance the art and the science of the map’s details, then the final result isn’t just a beautiful map, but a beautiful story of a place in time.

Xplanet isn’t a map.  Certainly not within any traditional definition.  It starts with an image of the Earth with the locations of the great cities of the world; combines dynamic elements like earthquakes, storms, volcanoes, and clouds; and adds a layer of depth with light and topographical imagery.

I think more importantly it highlights our technical achievements while reminding us how much more there is to learn.  Xplanet shows Earth as our ever-changing home.  Not just from the changing hues of our planet throughout the year, but also from the concentration of electric light that highlight our advancements and their, sometimes, unintended consequences.

So, why this guide?  Primarily, it’s my way of thanking Hari[1], Michael[2], and the broader community that is extending out Xplanet with projects such as xplanetFX and The Living Earth.  Secondly, there isn’t a lot of up to date information on getting Xplanet to run optimally on Mac OS X given some of Apple’s underlying OS changes.  Most scripts on the Internet have either been built on the GNU/Linux platform or are now outdated.  I wanted to consolidate and update the existing information and share what I’ve done.

I break up this guide into individual sections where I explain my rationale into the decisions that I’ve made to run Xplanet on my OS X environment. I talk about other options that I looked into where appropriate, e.g., compiling Xplanet natively or using a package manager.  Where inappropriate, I do not offer any opinion, e.g., I have only worked with images of the Earth and have never utilized Xplanet to provide a view of the Solar System.  It certainly wouldn’t be difficult to build upon and extend what I’ve documented in this guide and further customize Xplanet for yourself.

And away we go…

[1] – Hari Nair, the developer of Xplanet.
[2] – Michael Dear, the developer of TotalMarker.


8 Responses to History

  1. Stephan Irle says:

    Love the approach to start from xplanet and Totalmarker. Did receive many updates from the Totalmarker guy in the UK until he apparently became too busy. It happens to all of us and I appreciate you picking up on this wonderful enterprise.

    • Xplanet Blog says:

      Thank you, Stephan. Maybe one day Michael will compile his scripts for Intel Mac, share his scripts again, or allow someone to host.

  2. Marcus Jackson says:

    Hi I have been using osx planet for a few years but now I have upgraded my mac and am now using os x 10.12. However osx planet does not work on this operating system. Please can you direct me to a version of osx planet that works with sierra. many thanks.

    • Xplanet Blog says:

      I’m in no way affiliated with OSXplanet so I cannot answer definitively, but I believe that version hasn’t been updated since 2008 and stopped working once Apple released Lion (10.7) in 2010.

    • Matthew O Coblentz says:

      Marcus, are you using the Homebrew version?

  3. Gregory Johnson says:

    how can I download this on my Mac 10.14 really liked this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *