Cohorts of stars orbiting black holes (with planets, moons, and eclipses!)

This post starts off with some world-building, jumps into eclipses and moons’ orbits, and finishes with a brand new Kalgash system that Isaac Asimov would be proud of (dropped into darkness every 2000 years!). More than one planet can share the same orbit around a star. This is not big news: the concept of Trojan … More Cohorts of stars orbiting black holes (with planets, moons, and eclipses!)

Real-life sci-fi world #5: a Dune planet (Arrakis)

Welcome to Real-life Sci-fi worlds.  I use science to explore life-bearing worlds that are the settings for science fiction stories.  Up today: a desert planet like Arrakis from the classic Dune books (and the movie and miniseries).  A tribute for author Frank Herbert‘s birthday (a couple days late). Dune is one of the all-time classic … More Real-life sci-fi world #5: a Dune planet (Arrakis)

Real-life Sci-Fi World #2: the Hot Eyeball planet

Welcome to Real-life Sci-fi worlds.  We use science to explore life-bearing worlds that are good settings for science fiction.  Up today: the hot Eyeball planet. Planets very close to their stars are too hot for life, right?  Well, not always! Take the Earth and move it closer and closer to the Sun.  It gets hotter … More Real-life Sci-Fi World #2: the Hot Eyeball planet

Giraffes and planets

Giraffes are covered in patches.  The patches are brown and the space in between the patches is white.  Everyone knows this. Here is something you probably didn’t know: you can see those patches in infrared light.  In simple terms, infrared light measures heat (at least at the temperatures we are used to in everyday life).  … More Giraffes and planets

Building the ultimate Solar System part 5: putting the pieces together

We are building the ultimate Solar System.    In Part 1 we chose the right star.  In Part 2 we chose the right planets. In Part 3 we chose the right orbits for the planets.  In Part 4 we learned two ninja moves about how more than one planet/moon can share the same orbit. Today’s … More Building the ultimate Solar System part 5: putting the pieces together

Building the ultimate Solar System part 4: two ninja moves — moons and co-orbital planets

We are building the ultimate Solar System.    In Part 1 we chose the right star.  In Part 2 we chose the right planets. In Part 3 we chose the right orbits for the planets. Today’s job: Discovering two ninja moves that will allow us to pack way more worlds in the habitable zone. The … More Building the ultimate Solar System part 4: two ninja moves — moons and co-orbital planets

Building the ultimate Solar System part 3: choosing the planets’ orbits

We are building the ultimate Solar System.    In Part 1 we chose the right star.  In Part 2 we chose the right planets. Today’s job: choosing the right orbits for the planets. Let’s get started.  Our goal is simple.  We want to pack as many planets into our star’s habitable zone as possible.  We … More Building the ultimate Solar System part 3: choosing the planets’ orbits

Building the ultimate Solar System part 2: choosing the right planets

We are building the ultimate Solar System.    In Part 1 we chose the right star. Today’s job: choosing the right planets to put in our ultimate Solar System.  Let’s stick to two defining characteristics: a planet’s size (or mass) and its composition. We want Goldilocks-ish planets.  They shouldn’t be too small, too big, too … More Building the ultimate Solar System part 2: choosing the right planets

Building the ultimate Solar System part 1: choosing the right star

We are building the ultimate Solar System.  Here is an introduction to the game.    What kind of star will anchor our ultimate Solar System? It comes down to two choices: stars like the Sun or cooler, redder stars sometimes called “cool stars” or “red dwarfs”. Why not stars bigger than the Sun?  Because they … More Building the ultimate Solar System part 1: choosing the right star