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Old January 10 2009, 08:17 PM   #1
fungun
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Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Ok another star system up for discussion.
After the discussion and help I recieved on the L-374 system, I decided to ask another question.
What are your thoughts on where Star Trek Star Charts book put Ceti Alpha?
To me it does and doesn't make sense.
In Space Seed, Kirk was going to take Khan and his people to Starbase 12, which by the book is close to Deneva, Beta Rigel and Orion systems.
But the book puts Ceti Alpha and the Mutara Nebula in close proximity to each other all the way down by Betelgeuse. In fact you can only see it in the book on the circular map on the page listed "United Federation of Planets II".
If this is so, why would Kirk go out of his way that far? ie-SB12 to Ceti Alpha.
Also I never heard of Ceti Alpha being anywhere near the Mutara Nebula.

Thoughts????

Thanks,
Tim
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Old January 10 2009, 09:19 PM   #2
Christopher
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Assuming "Ceti Alpha" is actually Alpha Ceti, then Geoffrey Mandel had no choice but to put it where he did, because that's its actual location. TOS used the names of real stars at random without a lot of thought as to their positions, but Mandel based Star Charts on actual astronomical databases.

As for the Mutara Nebula being relatively near Ceti Alpha, doesn't it make sense that Project Genesis would've been searching for candidate stars relatively close to where the project was based? Besides, it's a 2D projection of 3D space, so they could actually be quite far apart along the Z axis. Watch that 2-dimensional thinking.
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Old January 10 2009, 11:00 PM   #3
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

In the ENT episode 'Twilight,' the survivors of the Xindi attack on Earth settle on Ceti Alpha, and at one point T'Pol mentions that Enterprise is patrolling nearby at the Mutara Nebula. So in fact there is an aired reference that seems to indicate Ceti Alpha isn't far from the Mutara Nebula.

That doesn't answer your question about the proximity of Starbase 12, of course. But Star Trek always plays fast 'n' loose with cosmic distances. I remember calculating how long it would take TOS Enterprise to reach the edge of the galaxy as in 'Where No Man Has Gone Before,' using the scale provided in one of the tech manuals (that is, Warp 1 is lightspeed, Warp 2 is several times light speed, and each step being larger and larger multiples) and it was on the order of many, many decades at maximum warp -- even if you assume they headed 'up' or 'down.' So it's just one of those things you have to kind of shrug at and move on....
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Old January 10 2009, 11:11 PM   #4
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Christopher wrote: View Post
Assuming "Ceti Alpha" is actually Alpha Ceti, then Geoffrey Mandel had no choice but to put it where he did, because that's its actual location. TOS used the names of real stars at random without a lot of thought as to their positions, but Mandel based Star Charts on actual astronomical databases.
I have trouble with "Ceti Alpha" being "Alpha Ceti" for two reasons.

1) It's 220 light years from Earth. Khan had been traveling for 2-300 years at less than the speed of light. I don't think the Botany Bay could have made it out that far.

2) Alpha Ceti is not going to have any inhabitable planets. It's a very late stage red giant. Any planets that had been inhabitable would be cooked or swallowed. Any planets that might be in the new, temporary biosphere would not have oxygen in their atmospheres. Even if there were, miraculously, a planet which had somehow formed such an atmosphere, Kirk would have been insane to park a colony in a system that was about to explode.

Clearly, when Kirk set down Khan and his gang, he intended it to be a struggle for the supermen, not a death sentence.
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Old January 10 2009, 11:31 PM   #5
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Regarding Starbase 12, the only named spot in the episode, we know it's in the Gamma 400 system and is the command HQ for the region--wherever that might be.

Now, if you go by stardate order, the next episode was Return of the Archons. The Enterprise investigated Beta III which hadn't been looked into since the Archon disappeared a century earlier. This suggests a location outside Federation controlled space. Starbase 12 may thus be a frontier Starbase.

On the other hand, the episode *before* Space Seed in stardate order is "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (assuming it isn't City on the Edge of Forever which doesn't have a canon stardate but does have a non-canon one). In Tomorrow is Yesterday, the Enterprise is at Earth. Of course, they might have used the great hurling power of the Slingshot Effect to send them to the vicinity of Starbase 12. They don't say one way or the other.

If Starbase 12 *is* close to Earth, that ties in well with the fact that the Botany Bay really couldn't have been more than 200 LY from Earth, and probably was a lot closer.
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Old January 11 2009, 03:53 AM   #6
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Neopeius wrote: View Post
I have trouble with "Ceti Alpha" being "Alpha Ceti" for two reasons.

1) It's 220 light years from Earth. Khan had been traveling for 2-300 years at less than the speed of light. I don't think the Botany Bay could have made it out that far.
Neither could Voyager 6, Pioneer 10, Nomad, the Charybdis, or any of the other Earth probes and ships that ended up absurdly far from the Sol System. I agree it's a problem, but if you rule out the Botany Bay, you have to rule out the rest.

Also, it's stated at the beginning of "Space Seed" that there have been no Earth ships reported in the sector for years. Even given the vastness of space, that's unlikely in the space close to Earth -- downright impossible if you define "sector" in Star Charts terms as a cube 20 light-years across containing multiple star systems.

2) Alpha Ceti is not going to have any inhabitable planets. It's a very late stage red giant. Any planets that had been inhabitable would be cooked or swallowed. Any planets that might be in the new, temporary biosphere would not have oxygen in their atmospheres. Even if there were, miraculously, a planet which had somehow formed such an atmosphere, Kirk would have been insane to park a colony in a system that was about to explode.
Again, a valid scientific objection that would also apply to a great many other inhabited systems in Trek -- Rigel, Antares, Betelgeuse, you name it. Unless you want to assume every one of those stars has a main-sequence namesake, it's necessary to accept the implausible conceit that the Trek universe does contain inhabited planets around red giants and supergiants. Indeed, TOS established inhabited planets around several stars that were explicitly at the end of their lifetimes: Minara, Fabrina, and Beta Niobe. Realistically, none of them should've had habitable planets that close to their demise, especially if they were stars capable of supernova, in which case they should never have had time to evolve complex life. Maybe the inhabited planets in question were terraformed by ancient races like the Organians, Talosians, or Sargon's people. (Not the Preservers. The only evidence we have of Preserver action is just a few centuries old, so I resist the bad habit of assuming they're an arbitrarily ancient race.)

Clearly, when Kirk set down Khan and his gang, he intended it to be a struggle for the supermen, not a death sentence.
The processes leading to the end of a red giant phase take many thousands of years. Hardly an imminent death sentence.
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Old January 11 2009, 05:04 AM   #7
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Christopher wrote: View Post
Neopeius wrote: View Post
I have trouble with "Ceti Alpha" being "Alpha Ceti" for two reasons.

1) It's 220 light years from Earth. Khan had been traveling for 2-300 years at less than the speed of light. I don't think the Botany Bay could have made it out that far.
Neither could Voyager 6, Pioneer 10, Nomad, the Charybdis, or any of the other Earth probes and ships that ended up absurdly far from the Sol System. I agree it's a problem, but if you rule out the Botany Bay, you have to rule out the rest.
Excluding the movies, which I think it's fair to do since they weren't on Space Seed's writer's mind, that leaves just Nomad--and Nomad had merged with another probe which seems to have some sort of interstellar drive.


Also, it's stated at the beginning of "Space Seed" that there have been no Earth ships reported in the sector for years. Even given the vastness of space, that's unlikely in the space close to Earth -- downright impossible if you define "sector" in Star Charts terms as a cube 20 light-years across containing multiple star systems.

2) Alpha Ceti is not going to have any inhabitable planets. It's a very late stage red giant. Any planets that had been inhabitable would be cooked or swallowed. Any planets that might be in the new, temporary biosphere would not have oxygen in their atmospheres. Even if there were, miraculously, a planet which had somehow formed such an atmosphere, Kirk would have been insane to park a colony in a system that was about to explode.
Again, a valid scientific objection that would also apply to a great many other inhabited systems in Trek -- Rigel, Antares, Betelgeuse, you name it. Unless you want to assume every one of those stars has a main-sequence namesake, it's necessary to accept the implausible conceit that the Trek universe does contain inhabited planets around red giants and supergiants. Indeed, TOS established inhabited planets around several stars that were explicitly at the end of their lifetimes: Minara, Fabrina, and Beta Niobe. Realistically, none of them should've had habitable planets that close to their demise, especially if they were stars capable of supernova, in which case they should never have had time to evolve complex life. Maybe the inhabited planets in question were terraformed by ancient races like the Organians, Talosians, or Sargon's people. (Not the Preservers. The only evidence we have of Preserver action is just a few centuries old, so I resist the bad habit of assuming they're an arbitrarily ancient race.)
Some of those stars went "nova" (a misnomer) but were otherwise healthy stars prior to the episodes they were mentioned in. As you say, Rigel and Betelgeuse are lousy candidates for colonization so it's unlikely the Trek colonies actually orbit those stars. Similarly, Ceti Alpha may be somehow affiliated with Alpha Ceti, but they can't be the same star.


Clearly, when Kirk set down Khan and his gang, he intended it to be a struggle for the supermen, not a death sentence.
The processes leading to the end of a red giant phase take many thousands of years. Hardly an imminent death sentence.
They do.. from the beginning. It's hard to tell just when the star will blow up when it's in that phase. As we've seen in other TOS episodes, it's often a matter of hours.
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Old January 11 2009, 04:25 PM   #8
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

If we go by the idea that Khan traveled at high sublight, the maximum distance he could have reached would be (2267 or so minus 1996) lightyears, that is, about 270 lightyears. That's a bit too high a speed to my tastes, though... But we could consider the fact that Khan and Kirk both claimed that Khan had been frozen for some two centuries, not three. That would be literally true if relativistic time dilation shortened the 270 years to 250 or less. And that in turn would only happen if Khan reached at least 0.45 c or so soon after his departure and maintained that. In which case the distance he covered would be about half the "objective" travel time in lightyears, of course - that is, about 120-130 lightyears. A star at that range would nicely match the concept of "Earthships used to go here long before Kirk, but there was nothing here so they no longer do".

Looking at this from another angle, I don't like the idea of twisting Ceti Alpha to Alpha Ceti. Rather, I'd like to stay systematic and assume that the constellation is indeed Cetus - but the star isn't the brightest one there, but instead something like Gamma Ceti or Epsilon Ceti. And it happens to be a wide binary, so we get Epsilon Ceti A and Epsilon Ceti B - or, in phonetic alphabet, Epsilon Ceti Alpha and Epsilon Ceti Bravo.

And travelers in the vicinity of these stars would drop the Epsilon part because they'd consider it trivial. Cetus is a wide constellation, after all, its bright stars well separated from one another - there'd be no chance of a mix-up there. (Similarly, our intrepid trekkers frequently seem to drop parts of the full star names when they refer to places like Omega IV or Alpha 113 - probably because they know damn well that they are exploring the constellation Pisces, so its Omega star won't get confused with, say, Omega Cygni.)

Using this twist of "logic", we can now pick and choose one of the many Cetus stars for our Alpha/Bravo pair, the one that pleases us the most. Plenty of choices in the 120-130 ly brackets.

As for whether Mutara/Regula should be close to Ceti Alpha, or Ceti Alpha to the site where Kirk picked up Khan... I can buy the logic that Carol Marcus would want the Reliant to look for desert planets closest to Mutara/Regula. And I can buy the logic that Khan wouldn't get very far from his pickup site during his brief moment in command of the Enterprise, and that Kirk wouldn't want to stray far away from his position and flight plan when marooning Khan. After all, Kirk apparently tried to hide Khan's existence and fate, possibly because he admired the superman so much - so he wouldn't want his logs to reflect a major course change and delay. And it also makes perfect sense that the Marcus lab would be situated in a place where Earthships seldom traveled...

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Old January 11 2009, 05:53 PM   #9
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Timo wrote: View Post

[snip]
Timo, I almost never go for your torturous conclusions, but that was really excellent. I like the idea that the sleeping for two centuries might be the result of time dilation of a three century trip. Of course, I also like Trek being just 200 years after the 1990s as that fits well with Metamorphosis, but still...

Well done.

As for whether Mutara/Regula should be close to Ceti Alpha, or Ceti Alpha to the site where Kirk picked up Khan... I can buy the logic that Carol Marcus would want the Reliant to look for desert planets closest to Mutara/Regula. And I can buy the logic that Khan wouldn't get very far from his pickup site during his brief moment in command of the Enterprise, and that Kirk wouldn't want to stray far away from his position and flight plan when marooning Khan. After all, Kirk apparently tried to hide Khan's existence and fate, possibly because he admired the superman so much - so he wouldn't want his logs to reflect a major course change and delay. And it also makes perfect sense that the Marcus lab would be situated in a place where Earthships seldom traveled...
How about this for elegance? The Mutara Nebula is Alpha Ceti post-explosion.
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Old January 11 2009, 06:32 PM   #10
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Neopeius wrote: View Post
Of course, I also like Trek being just 200 years after the 1990s as that fits well with Metamorphosis, but still...
How does that fit well with "Metamorphosis?" If TOS were in the 2190s, then Cochrane, having been lost 150 years earlier at the age of 85, would've been born somewhere around 1960, give or take. Which means, since most geniuses achieve their greatest work in their 30s, that warp drive would've had to be invented before the year 2000.


How about this for elegance? The Mutara Nebula is Alpha Ceti post-explosion.
Alpha Ceti won't explode, it will gradually expel its outer layers into a planetary nebula over the course of millennia. Even if the process had begun 220 years ago (so that the light hasn't quite reached us yet), then by the 2280s you would still see a recognizable star with just a diffuse, roughly spherical shell or shells of gas around it.

Mutara, with its magenta coloring, looks more like an H II region, a cloud of ionized atomic hydrogen in which star formation takes place. Although like most Trek nebulae, it's about a zillion times denser than a real nebula and would have to be really tiny to be invisible from Earth (real H II regions are often hundreds of light-years across). I think of Trek nebulae as belonging to an undiscovered class of "micronebulae" which are much smaller and denser than the normal kind. Which may actually be plausible. We're increasingly discovering that there are likely to be a lot of isolated rogue planets and brown dwarfs out there, and they had to form from something, so there might be tiny clumps of nebular matter out there as well, too small and dim for us to have detected yet (after all, we're still discovering new red dwarfs within ten parsecs, and micronebulae would be dimmer than those).
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Old January 11 2009, 06:33 PM   #11
fungun
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

First off, thanks guys for the disscusion and insights.
I don't think Epsilon Ceti will work. Epsilon Ceti B II is Risa.
I think what I may do is go in the general direction of Alpha Ceti and place a small main sequence star out there. According to the Star Chart book, it's a pretty empty area of space. Also will prob use 200 ly for the distance.
Comments?
Thanks,
Tim
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Old January 11 2009, 06:39 PM   #12
fungun
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

For those who don't have the book, here is a site that has it alphabatized- http://www.star-trek-voyager.net/sts...harts_atoz.htm

Tim
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Old January 11 2009, 08:02 PM   #13
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

Christopher wrote: View Post
Neopeius wrote: View Post
Of course, I also like Trek being just 200 years after the 1990s as that fits well with Metamorphosis, but still...
How does that fit well with "Metamorphosis?" If TOS were in the 2190s, then Cochrane, having been lost 150 years earlier at the age of 85, would've been born somewhere around 1960, give or take. Which means, since most geniuses achieve their greatest work in their 30s, that warp drive would've had to be invented before the year 2000.
It can be interpreted from Space Seed that warp drive was invented in 2018. Zephrem Cochran could have been born in the 60's and accomplish that. Most geniuses achieve their greatest work within a few years of entering their field. It's not necessarily age-dependent. One of the greatest archaeologists ever took up the profession at age 75.

But if 150 years is a rounding off, as illogical humans are wont to do, you could argue that TOS takes place as late as the 2210s and not risk straining credulity on any front.




How about this for elegance? The Mutara Nebula is Alpha Ceti post-explosion.
Alpha Ceti won't explode, it will gradually expel its outer layers into a planetary nebula over the course of millennia. Even if the process had begun 220 years ago (so that the light hasn't quite reached us yet), then by the 2280s you would still see a recognizable star with just a diffuse, roughly spherical shell or shells of gas around it.

Mutara, with its magenta coloring, looks more like an H II region, a cloud of ionized atomic hydrogen in which star formation takes place. Although like most Trek nebulae, it's about a zillion times denser than a real nebula and would have to be really tiny to be invisible from Earth (real H II regions are often hundreds of light-years across). I think of Trek nebulae as belonging to an undiscovered class of "micronebulae" which are much smaller and denser than the normal kind. Which may actually be plausible. We're increasingly discovering that there are likely to be a lot of isolated rogue planets and brown dwarfs out there, and they had to form from something, so there might be tiny clumps of nebular matter out there as well, too small and dim for us to have detected yet (after all, we're still discovering new red dwarfs within ten parsecs, and micronebulae would be dimmer than those).
Sure. That sounds good, too
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Old January 11 2009, 08:04 PM   #14
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

fungun wrote: View Post
Also will prob use 200 ly for the distance.
Comments?
This is the only one I'd have any issue with and that's just because I like Trek 200 years in the future rather than 300.
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Old January 11 2009, 08:28 PM   #15
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Re: Next Problem-Ceti Alpha

I don't think Epsilon Ceti will work.
Indeed; that was just an example, and it's a bit too close for comfort, too. Something like Theta Ceti might be nice, a K2 at 115 lightyears; its binary nature might be a future discovery in the Trek universe. Or Eta Ceti, a K1 at 120 ly.

Epsilon Ceti B II is Risa.
One wonders, since Star Charts assumes that Archer's voyages began from Earth, while in the ENT reality they began from the Klingon homeworld (or from a spot at the Klingon border where the ship had to withdraw after concluding her business at that homeworld). The Charts assumptions about said homeworld don't jibe well with using Epsilon Ceti as Risa... But they could be made to work.

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