Using Starstrider (the software I mentioned in my previous post), I’ve found a star with a really nice view. It’s about four hundred light years from Earth, and is known to astronomers by such inspiring names as HIP 20740 and HD 28113. Here are links to its web pages on Simbad and Wikisky.
Let me try to explain why this star appeals to me. It is a front-row seat to the Pleiades, which are only 100 light years away and nicely aligned against the Cygnus Rift. Exactly 180 degrees across the sky, the stars Betelgeuse and Rigel guard opposite sides of another gap in the Milky Way. Such alignments are not only aesthetically pleasing, but one can well imagine them giving rise to interesting mythologies (though you wouldn’t see both from a single location on a hypothetical planet). On top of that, it is a yellow G-class star like the Sun, so might feel somewhat like home.
I choose to imagine it is the location of Heaven, and will refer to it as Heofonsteorra (Anglo-Saxon for “Heaven star” or “Heaven’s star”).
Note that some of the material in this blog post was originally posted later in 2008, but during a 2014 archive review I’ve decided to merge it. The added material includes better pictures, because when I originally wrote this post I was less practiced at using Starstrider and didn’t know how to get the best pictures out of it.
Images are linked below. Thumbnails are not included because they don’t work well for starfields. I strongly advise viewing the large images with as little ambient light as possible, i.e. full screen in a dark room.
View towards Pleiades:
- Original spaceship window view, a panoramic view of the same, and again with some stars labelled.
- Alternative close-up with different view settings.
View away from Pleiades:
Views toward Earth:
- The Sun is too far away to see, but lies on the far side of the Hyades. Here’s a naked eye view of the Hyades that looks somewhat like a demon’s head, and here’s a telescopic view with the Sun indicated.
- To put the above in context, here’s an image with the Pleiades on one side and the Hyades on the other.
- I later decided that the Hyades are better interpreted not as demon’s head but as a flower, as shown on this constellation diagram. Here is the same image without lines. Since the Hyades viwed from Heofonsteorra are rather faint, I imagine this constellation to be some alien equivalent of a black rose.
From Earth to Heofonsteorra:
Finally, here is a telescopic view from Earth, centred on Aldebaran, with my star indicated.