However I wonder, should astronomers discover in a year that 40 Eridani is comprised of only a single heavy gravity planet, will you then shift around an entire stellar map because it no longer fits? Or will you then decide that it's not necessary to match up real celestial objects with a fictional universe?
It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. As I said, you incorporate reality where you can and diverge from it where necessary. This is a standard approach to creating fictional worlds. There are already plenty of things Star Trek
has established that diverge from the real universe, like the Eugenics Wars or Voyager 6
, and we have to accept those; but where it's still feasible to reconcile Trek with reality, it's reasonable to do so. That's why Starfleet Headquarters is in San Francisco rather than North Koofblontz. That's why Trek has always used real star names like Rigel and Deneb and Aldebaran rather than making them all up, even if it hasn't always gotten its astrocartography right.
Think of all the TV shows and movies that are set in fictional cities in real states and countries. The title town in Eureka
was fictional, but it was explicitly located in Oregon, not some imaginary state. Buffy
's Sunnydale is fictional, but it's in Southern California. Stephen King's books are usually set in Maine, but the actual towns featured in them, like Castle Rock, are often fictional. So by the same token, there's nothing wrong with positing a fictional configuration of planets around a real star.
You say you have no judgmental intent, but you're completely missing the point in a very insulting way by assuming we're trying to "pigeonhole Star Trek
into reality." We're using
reality as a resource in a creative exercise, because it gives us more building blocks to play with and creates new possibilities. You should try it sometime instead of dismissing it out of hand. You might discover how much fun it is.