Earth Mk.I was an experiment with texture mapping in Java3D, which worked out remarkably well given that it only took a couple of hours to code.
A texture mapped sphere represents the Earth, surrounded by a bluish transparent sphere to represent the atmosphere.
A further version of this includes stars, a visible sun, and better lightsources.
Sources and Inspiration
Tor Oera's fantastic site - http://www.oera.net and Tor's 3D Earth tutorial
Fourmilab's Earth View - http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/
NASA's Earth from Space site - http://earth.jsc.nasa.gov/