Sunday, June 28, 2009

Affordable Interstellar Tourism ...

Trifid Nebula
Free, in fact. Okay, so it is only virtual, but still well worth the ticket price.

Scroll down about three screens at the Stars website for the Star of the Week. This weekend it is 3 Vulpeculae - click on the link to find out more about it. The site, run by University of Illinois astronomy professor emeritus Jim Kaler, features a new star most Saturdays, and the whole list is now up to 608, about a tenth of all naked eye stars. Scroll down his page for links to the other 607.

There is something very pleasing, at least to me, about reading this sort of travel-guide information about stars and other celestial objects. I get the same experience from Burnham's Celestial Handbook. In spite of my perhaps regrettable (but evidently popular) penchant for writing about how to blow stuff up, and the more respectable desire for knowledge, space travel is at bottom all about the tourist impulse.

Related links: I wrote about sky observing as a road trip, and two posts about extrasolar planets. The image of the Trifid Nebula (click on it for full size) is from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.


Anonymous said...

Cool website; well-written example entry, and I agree that 3 Vul is an observers' nightmare...I'd still like to go there in person.

Rick said...

Wouldn't everyone?

Well, regular visitors to this blog, at least. :-)