While playing around with the magnetosphere code, I found myself wondering what it would look like if I restricted the movement of the particles to the surface of a sphere. Well, it ended up looking like I thought it would. Pretty, but ultimately not an improvement. It looked a bit like the magnetic structure bucky ball pieces from a couple months ago.
On a whim, I added a new vector which would cause the particles to swirl around the center of the sphere along a coded equator. I started to see hints of nice turbulence swirls so I kept at it. To help emphasize this effect, I modified the rotational vector to have three peaks so as you travel from the north pole to the south, you would pass through three bands of rotation. I also added a perlin noise vector to make the movements seem even more chaotic. Here is the most recent video.
Here is the result from the first go.
The brighter dots represent the positions of the main particles. In order to make it look a bit cloudier, I started using the midpoints between nearby points. If two points have a distance of less than 100, I draw a fuzzy texture between them whose size and alpha are inversely proportional to the distance. So as the distance between two particles decreases, the fuzzy texture gets larger and brigther. Because of this, the ‘clouds’ can appear and disappear as the main particles drift about.
Here is another version where I am using simple gradient ellipses.
I tried sticking the textured earth sphere in the middle of this mess of particles but the effect was a bit cheese. Maybe I will come back to it if I feel like pushing this towards a more realistic cloud layer, but Im thinking I will stick with the simplicity of the white on black for a while longer.