Solar System Live Help

Colour Scheme

Colour scheme: 

You can select one the following colour schemes for the orrery. Samples of each colour scheme are given below, along with a discussion of the applications to which it is suited.


The default full colour scheme is easiest to view on computer monitors which support 256 (or more) colours. The portion of each orbit above the plane of the ecliptic is drawn in blue, the portion below in green.

Colour on white background

If you're printing the orrery on a colour printer, you may prefer a white background, which uses less ink or toner and avoids the possibility of the black background bleeding into the orbits.

Black on white background

If you're planning to print the orrery on a black and white printer, this is usually the best choice. The white background allows you to write on the image and keeps the background from using up lots of ink or toner in your printer. The portion of an orbit above the ecliptic is plotted in black, the portion below in grey.

White on black background

Many astronomers find charts in white with a black background easier to read with the dim red flashlights they use at the telescope to preserve night vision. You can produce orreries in this form, but if you're planning to print them, ponder the consequences for your printer. All of that black has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is generally your printer's ink or toner cartridge. Making lots of white on black maps can use up cartridges at a prodigious rate compared to printing normal text. Also, mostly black documents cause problems with some printers; laser printers may print a “shadow” on subsequent pages due to excess toner adhering to the imaging surface, and inkjet printers sometimes splatter ink around when feeding the large amount needed for extended regions of black. Your printer may be immune from these foibles, but if it isn't, don't say I didn't warn you. The portion of an orbit above the ecliptic is plotted in white, the portion below in grey.

Night vision (red)

If you're taking your laptop computer into the field to use at the telescope, this option may be just the ticket. All items in the orrery are displayed in red, which doesn't tend to degrade night vision. The portion of an orbit above the ecliptic is plotted in red, the portion below in dark red. When using this option, use the display brightness control to reduce the intensity to the minimum level at which you can still easily read the screen. Where possible, other material in the document is displayed red on black, like this paragraph.

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by John Walker