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Old January 10 2014, 07:58 PM   #31
DEWLine
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Yeah, the 3D angle continues to be a pain in the chairdock. As it stands, we've got things like Celestia, The_Sky, Starry Night, etc. that aren't quite yet adaptable to our fannish purpose. The Whitten Starmap site is purpose-tailored, but doesn't yet have access to a sufficiently large database of stars and other cosmic objects of interest to really play with on a large enough scale. For now. The ESA's Gaia mission database, once that finishes up being built...that'll help things immensely.
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Old January 11 2014, 02:06 AM   #32
Robbiesan
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Re: Stellar Cartography

On of the problematic aspects that is entirely unnecessary is trying to match up known Milky Way galaxy stars within the Star Trek universe. It's not essential and can lead to terrible errors in the distance of stars based upon canon and noncanonical fiction simply because the star isn't present in that map coordinate to be logical.

Why must it agree? We don't live in a Star Trek galaxy for sure. Earth is way to the side of the Milky Way and hardly at the center of four quadrants. If you begin with that premise, immediately there are issues because of the cluster of stellar mass that should be located within the centre of spiral arm type galaxies.

It's sufficient and maybe superior to create a star map that fits the stories of Star Trek and doesn't limit it based upon stellar evidence in our galaxy. Because of the change in elevation of a star and planets in comparison to others, that will dramatically alter the distance of planets. There's too many problems with making Milky Way known stars line up with a Star Trek galaxy.

I do applaud anyone's effort to do so. I recall an earlier pioneer towards this effort who had attended planetarium lectures and done independent research in order to determine the best fit for the Vulcan homestar. Ultimately it's wasted energy.
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Old January 11 2014, 02:58 AM   #33
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
On of the problematic aspects that is entirely unnecessary is trying to match up known Milky Way galaxy stars within the Star Trek universe. It's not essential and can lead to terrible errors in the distance of stars based upon canon and noncanonical fiction simply because the star isn't present in that map coordinate to be logical.
While Star Trek has many divergences from reality, it was one of the first science fiction television series that consulted at all with actual scientists and made even a partial effort to ground itself in realism. Its ground rule was to use real science as a starting point and diverge from it only as dramatic license demanded. It didn't always live up to that ideal, and few of the non-Roddenberry-produced incarnations of the franchise have made that much of an effort, but ST has enough foundation in reality (compared, at least, to most other mass-media SF) that it's worth the effort to try to connect it to real science and astronomy where possible. Yes, there are continuity errors that result, but there are continuity errors throughout the franchise pertaining to all sorts of other subjects.


Why must it agree? We don't live in a Star Trek galaxy for sure. Earth is way to the side of the Milky Way and hardly at the center of four quadrants. If you begin with that premise, immediately there are issues because of the cluster of stellar mass that should be located within the centre of spiral arm type galaxies.
It was never claimed that Earth was at the center of all four quadrants. On the contrary, it's simply at the border between the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, much as London is on the Prime Meridian dividing the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Said border is defined as the plane which passes through both Sol and the galactic center and is perpendicular to the galactic plane.

Even before the quadrant system was devised in TNG, Trek was quite clear on the fact that the center of the galaxy was nowhere near Earth (see "The Magicks of Megas-tu" and ST V). So I don't know where you got this mistaken impression.


There's too many problems with making Milky Way known stars line up with a Star Trek galaxy.
There are problems with making sense of any aspect of Trek continuity. But it can be an entertaining creative challenge to try. That's why we do it: because it's entertaining. That's what fiction is for, right?


I do applaud anyone's effort to do so. I recall an earlier pioneer towards this effort who had attended planetarium lectures and done independent research in order to determine the best fit for the Vulcan homestar. Ultimately it's wasted energy.
Exercising one's imagination and creativity is never wasted energy. Engaging at petty sniping at other people for choosing to do so, on the other hand, is definitely wasted energy.
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Old January 11 2014, 03:48 AM   #34
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Amen to that, Christopher.
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Old January 11 2014, 04:08 AM   #35
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Re: Stellar Cartography

I spent years making maps of the Trek (TOS) universe. I decided that trying to match most Trek locations with known stars was futile, as the Trek writers seemed to have completely ignored astronomical reality. Therefore, I decided that most systems named in TOS were too far away to worry about in my maps, which most concerned themselves with "core" regions. I used HIPPARCOS data from Winchell Chung's website and plotted habitable stars with galactic coordinates, with the z-axis indicated by color.

In this map of the early post–Romulan War era ( http://masazaki.deviantart.com/art/U...2170-369381515 ), I've used real star names (sometimes non-Western ones) for some stars and assigned names, both Trek names and names of my own choice/invention, to stars without real names. Lines indicate commonly travelled routes, which are usually only a few parsecs, given the slow ships of the era.

Any star map eventually has to deal with the third dimension somehow (either by ignoring it or by indicating it), but once you get beyond a certain size, the third dimension becomes unmanageable.
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Old January 11 2014, 04:19 AM   #36
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Re: Stellar Cartography

"Some details omitted for clarity" ends up playing out sooner or later, barring further technological surprises...
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Old January 11 2014, 06:14 AM   #37
Robbiesan
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Christopher wrote: View Post
While Star Trek has many divergences from reality, it was one of the first science fiction television series that consulted at all with actual scientists and made even a partial effort to ground itself in realism. Its ground rule was to use real science as a starting point and diverge from it only as dramatic license demanded. It didn't always live up to that ideal, and few of the non-Roddenberry-produced incarnations of the franchise have made that much of an effort, but ST has enough foundation in reality (compared, at least, to most other mass-media SF) that it's worth the effort to try to connect it to real science and astronomy where possible. Yes, there are continuity errors that result, but there are continuity errors throughout the franchise pertaining to all sorts of other subjects.


It was never claimed that Earth was at the center of all four quadrants. On the contrary, it's simply at the border between the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, much as London is on the Prime Meridian dividing the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. Said border is defined as the plane which passes through both Sol and the galactic center and is perpendicular to the galactic plane.

Even before the quadrant system was devised in TNG, Trek was quite clear on the fact that the center of the galaxy was nowhere near Earth (see "The Magicks of Megas-tu" and ST V). So I don't know where you got this mistaken impression.


There are problems with making sense of any aspect of Trek continuity. But it can be an entertaining creative challenge to try. That's why we do it: because it's entertaining. That's what fiction is for, right?


I do applaud anyone's effort to do so. I recall an earlier pioneer towards this effort who had attended planetarium lectures and done independent research in order to determine the best fit for the Vulcan homestar. Ultimately it's wasted energy.
Exercising one's imagination and creativity is never wasted energy. Engaging at petty sniping at other people for choosing to do so, on the other hand, is definitely wasted energy.
First, let me clear up my statement, something which I though was pretty clear based upon prefacing it by stating "I do applaud..." which is showing positive acknowledgement for them attempting it, while I feel it is misdirected energy. That's what I meant by wasted energy. It isn't that the action is useless, it's that the effort doesn't seem necessary.

The Vulcan solar system is a fictional one, that was created in a collaborative effort in part by some established canon after the original series, but written by so many voices who naturally won't agree in any sense of unity, and written over more than forty years. That makes it all but impossible to say definitively that this star must be the Vulcan sun, because there's no way it can be.

The oddest aspect is using the Terran solar system as a point of origin given all of the races and cultures. Arbitrarily assigning Earth as being of more importance as a map reference point is kind of silly. The only reason to do so is some sense of pride and in trying to be authentic to canon. But to then do so, plus try to adhere to a Milky Way galaxy and match things up is mixing apples and oranges. If it's the centre, it's only a centre because of affectation and not because of stellar cartography.

It isn't logical. You can bet that the earliest known races who were spacefarers and became Federation members didn't use Earth as a point of importance. Do you think Vulcan or Andorian maps looked anything like that? Both had warp drive far before the Terrans, with the Vulcans being an interstellar race around 900 BCE and with warp capability ~ the time of the Roswell Incident. Their maps surely had quite a bit of difference from anything being discussed.
http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Warp_drive

It's not wasted effort in the respect that it has no value. I would never say that because all of us have individual passions. I myself am creating stellar maps so people can find entertainment within the realm of Star Trek for a mod for GalCiv2 (something you can partially see in my signature). I've spent hundreds of hours doing so, and while that produces no economic benefit, it's purely selfless so people can have fun and use their minds in a strategic computer game.

I simply don't think we must make it match up. It just won't because as we learn better astronomy there will be planets detected and should we have assigned a Star Trek planet to a specific real Milky Way solar system that is absent the same characteristics, then that time will be "wasted" because there's no way to get it accurately.

It's fine if the stars and planets and nebula and other celestial phemomena of Star Trek doesn't match up with the Milky Way.

Last edited by Robbiesan; January 11 2014 at 06:26 AM. Reason: spelling and grammar
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Old January 11 2014, 06:33 AM   #38
Robbiesan
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Masao wrote: View Post
I spent years making maps of the Trek (TOS) universe. I decided that trying to match most Trek locations with known stars was futile, as the Trek writers seemed to have completely ignored astronomical reality. Therefore, I decided that most systems named in TOS were too far away to worry about in my maps, which most concerned themselves with "core" regions. I used HIPPARCOS data from Winchell Chung's website and plotted habitable stars with galactic coordinates, with the z-axis indicated by color.

In this map of the early post–Romulan War era ( http://masazaki.deviantart.com/art/U...2170-369381515 ), I've used real star names (sometimes non-Western ones) for some stars and assigned names, both Trek names and names of my own choice/invention, to stars without real names. Lines indicate commonly travelled routes, which are usually only a few parsecs, given the slow ships of the era.

Any star map eventually has to deal with the third dimension somehow (either by ignoring it or by indicating it), but once you get beyond a certain size, the third dimension becomes unmanageable.
Masao, are you the person who made this really great map?

I saw it the other day and really admire the work that went into it...

GalCiv2's map is 2D but the starships are sorta moving in 3D though there is precious little Z axis movement (probably because it's an old computer game made in 2006). When one looks on a 2D map and then calculates how fast it would take to get to Vulcan from Earth at say Warp 1, then one can start to make a stellar map. The problem right away is considering the Z axis because while looking from top down it may appear that Vulcan is close, it might be deeply below Earth or way up high above it.

If we were to say that Vulcan must be 40 Eridani since it fits, then that alters the map coordinate system and would be fine as long as other famous planets and their stars match up. If you go down that path, I think as Masao has stated, then you're bound to run into all kinds of discrepencies and endlessly draw and redraw maps to fit our galaxy.

We can't just go by light-years because it's too vague but it does give some reference points and estimated travel times, but I doubt the writers were carefully calculating but probably making a quick guess, while working on their story. And likely not intending for anyone to make a logical map from their work too....

Last edited by Robbiesan; January 12 2014 at 02:15 AM. Reason: edited to stay within the terms of service regarding privacy
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Old January 11 2014, 02:08 PM   #39
Masao
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
Masao, are you the person who made this really great map?


I saw it the other day and really admire the work that went into it...
Yes, I did that about 10 years ago when I first started my mapping experiments. It's pretty but not very practical for showing the relationships between stars. Perspective is useful for showing objects that we are familiar with, but with stars all you get is a bunch of dots. Routes give the stars a bit of structure, but there's too much overlap in a least one dimension.
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Old January 11 2014, 03:26 PM   #40
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Re: Stellar Cartography

What we're looking for might well be a hybridization of elements of Jed Whitten's Starmap site and the Celestia software.
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Old January 11 2014, 03:54 PM   #41
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
First, let me clear up my statement, something which I though was pretty clear based upon prefacing it by stating "I do applaud..." which is showing positive acknowledgement for them attempting it, while I feel it is misdirected energy. That's what I meant by wasted energy. It isn't that the action is useless, it's that the effort doesn't seem necessary.
Which is still a ridiculously judgmental thing to say. What does "necessary" even mean in this context? It's fiction. It's entertainment. It's about having fun. Nothing about it is "necessary" in the sense of sustaining life or earning an income or whatever, but it stimulates our minds and imaginations. And a lot of us find it fun and stimulating to undertake the creative experiment of trying to reconcile the fiction with reality. So that is no more or less "necessary" than any other way of engaging with a work of fiction.


The oddest aspect is using the Terran solar system as a point of origin given all of the races and cultures. Arbitrarily assigning Earth as being of more importance as a map reference point is kind of silly.
What are you even talking about here? Earth is clearly depicted in Trek as a world of central importance to the Federation. Starfleet Command is based there, the Federation Council is based there. It's clearly the capital of the Federation. So it makes as much sense to use Sol as the reference point for delineating the Alpha and Beta Quadrants as it does to use the Greenwich Observatory in London as the reference point for delineating Earth's hemispheres. It's a decision that was made for historical and political reasons in real life, so it's entirely logical that an analogous cartographic choice would be made in an interstellar civilization whose capital is on Earth.


I simply don't think we must make it match up.
"Must" has nothing to do with it. If you don't want it to match up in your own personal version, then you don't have to make it match up. But a lot of us do find it fun to bring as much reality into it as we can manage.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. They say the best lie is the one that has the most truth in it. And the same goes for fiction. No, it can never match perfectly with reality, but incorporating as much reality as you can gives it verisimilitude. That's how Roddenberry himself approached TOS, TMP, and TNG. He consulted with scientists and engineers and think tanks, brought in reality where he could, and ignored it where he needed to. He created a fiction, yes, a universe different from the real one, but one with elements drawn from reality to make it feel more believable. That's a perfectly valid and common creative practice. Storytellers do it all the time: they create unreal worlds yet ground them in details drawn from the real world to give them verisimilitude. Arthur C. Clarke set The Fountains of Paradise on a fictional island in the Indian Ocean, one farther south than his home of Sri Lanka so that it would rest on the equator, but otherwise he based it heavily on the real history, geography, and culture of Sri Lanka. Diane Duane wrote her Young Wizard and Feline Wizard novels in a fantasy universe where magic is real, but set them in a very accurate and well-researched version of New York City. This is verisimilitude -- literally, similarity to truth. Not actual truth, but a fiction that bears enough resemblance to truth to feel as though it could be real.

So you're absolutely wrong to say it's a waste to incorporate elements of reality into the fiction. Doing your homework and making the effort to build more verisimilitude into the fiction is never a waste. No, it isn't absolutely "necessary," but that's a nonsensical standard to apply to fiction. There are many ways of telling a story. Some stories are set in completely invented fantasy lands, while others are grounded in the real world while still containing major divergences from it. Neither approach is wrong.
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Old January 11 2014, 05:47 PM   #42
Robbiesan
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Christopher,

Obviously I hit a nerve. I'm the least judgmental person you're ever going to meet. One can't detect tone in a post, something that I would assume you would know if a frequent poster on any forum.

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?

Your ardent irritation with a relatively minor post is only amusing me. Talk about misdirected energy.

Masao,

Well the stellar map you created still is very useful if you made some reasonable guesses based upon estimated flight time to stars based upon references to Star Trek authorized fiction and fan fiction. Looking through all of the references I've seen, there's only a few other examples of that kind of pragmatic work.

I like your other website as well. It probably has way more 3d models than any other site I've ever seen. It's quite a resource.

Some excellent stellar cartography from French researchers can be seen here in brief:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...-Earth-is.html

And can be seen completely here:
http://irfu.cea.fr/cosmography
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCHi4hioFEI
(Subtitled in several languages)

The Sol system is a rather insignificant part of a tiny spiral arm fragment (local spur arm) and can be seen here:
http://www.basicknowledge101.com/pho...inmilkyway.jpg

"
Our galaxy is about 100,000 light-years wide. We’re about 25,000 light-years from the center of the galaxy. It turns out we’re not located in one of the Milky Way’s two primary spiral arms. Instead, we’re located in a minor arm of the galaxy. Our local spiral arm is sometimes Orion Arm, or sometimes the Orion Spur."
http://earthsky.org/space/does-our-s...lky-way-galaxy

But heck, that's real astronomy and not gobbledygook estatz astronomy attempting to pidgeonhole Star Trek into reality.

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Old January 11 2014, 07:00 PM   #43
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Robbiesan wrote: View Post
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.
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Old January 11 2014, 07:08 PM   #44
Robbiesan
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Re: Stellar Cartography

Christopher,
All I mentioned was that it was wasted effort. You on the other hand took great offense at a word. Come on man, lighten up!

If you studied any astronomy at all in college or grad school, the take away point was the insignificance of not only the Earth in reference to the Milky Way galaxy, but the insignificance of the Milky Way among galaxies.

One cannot pretend to be doing stellar cartography and then simultaneously ascribe some origin points to the Earth's location within our galaxy just because Star Trek does. It's not logical.

Yes, we're proud that Earth is the head of the Federation (strictly by being the location of the headquarters, not because Terrans would be more important as a species), but it's not in keeping with the main story of Star Trek and isn't science anymore when we fall into that trap. Worse, because trying to make celestial objects fit a fictional world, we then cannot ever be accurate.

Instead the most useful aspect of stellar cartography is to make it plausible such that fans can say, "Oh, now I see what the trip might have been like, or why it took this long, or this representation makes more sense now..." Those writers were and are not likely to astronomers.
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Old January 11 2014, 07:13 PM   #45
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Re: Stellar Cartography

I think we've accidentally stumbled onto the next big idea for the next TV series: recruit Neil deGrasse Tyson into the writing staff. ;-)
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