Whenever I teach anyone how to work with 3D, usually the first thing we do is make the Earth. It’s just a sphere, so it’s a nice simple thing to get started with, and then we can add textures, bump maps, and star fields.
But OutsideOfSociety has taken this a step further and made a series of globes of various styles; classic, geodesic, lines, blocks, particles, and all absolutely gorgeous.
It uses three.js and the WebGL renderer and you can see the source for yourself – there’s not much code but a lot of awesome. Make sure to check out the lens flare effect on the sun.