So, what are all these dots we see the Enterprise passing?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Sheridan, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. Sheridan

    Sheridan Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Hey, I searched the forums to see if this has been asked or not but I didn't find anything. I've always been curious about this: what are these dots we see the Enterprise passing when it's in warp? Are these stars that we are seeing the Enterprise pass or are these dots merely the light from the stars that it's passing? And why do we still see them moving past the Enterprise/shuttlecraft even when they're going in sub-light speed? This is just something I've been curious about and friends/family of mine ask me what they are too when we watch Star Trek so its pretty embarrassing that I don't have an answer since I call myself a Trekkie :lol:
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    They're meant to be the stars going by. Of course, it's taking huge dramatic license, the stars are so far apart that a ship would have to be going millions of times the speed of light for the stars to move visibly like that. But it was done to create the visual impression of movement.

    We see them at sublight speed as well because of stock effects elements being used, or again simply as dramatic license to create the impression of movement.
     
  3. Haytil

    Haytil Captain Captain

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    They're SUPPOSED to be stars - but they're moving way too fast, given how far apart stars really are.

    So I just assumed they were particles of dust and gas in the vacuum.
     
  4. JNG

    JNG Chief of Staff, Starfleet Command

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    Could be both matter particles and light from stars hitting the warp field and doing unpredictable things. When we've seen the ship slow from warp, some but not all of the trails resolve into stars, so this seems OK.

    I hope it is permissible to quote Dr. Schneider at ex-astris-scientia.org:

     
  5. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

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  6. Red Ranger

    Red Ranger Admiral Admiral

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    Sorry to state the obvious, but it's Star Trek. I think we can safely assume they're stars! Remember what Sigmund Freud once said: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! -- RR
     
  7. WendellM

    WendellM Commodore Commodore

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    Oh holy shit
    The stars are brightly passing


    Is that how the song goes?
     
  8. Sheridan

    Sheridan Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Thanks for the answers guys. :) I guess from what I've heard that we can safely assume that these are stars the Enterprise is passing. I do think it's a bit odd that this was never explained at any point of the show though. Maybe they did that to leave room for interpretation?
     
  9. Bacl

    Bacl Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They are the souls of everyone's Grandpa and Grandma. And my kitty.
     
  10. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe they assumed the viewers had a clue. Silly them.
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Walking distance from Starfleet HQ
    Almost...

    Oh bloody shite! The stars in flight aligning,
    It looks like night on these Treks out from Earth.
    Out here strange worlds to seek and ores for mining,
    Jim Kirk emotes in a scene of some worth.
    "He has no hope" the crusty Doc McCoy says,
    As redshirt bleeds due to a spurious Gorn.
     
  12. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    They're space bugs smacking on the hull. ;)
     
  13. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    They're just stars.
     
  14. Sephiroth

    Sephiroth Vice Admiral Admiral

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    thier actually Konpeito
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That goes fine for the original TOS graphics. Not so for the streaks familiar from the spinoff shows, tho. Since nobody has ever told us what they are, and since they certainly shouldn't be stars, I think we should embrace just about any explanation except "they are stars".

    If the ships really passed stars at that rate, they'd quickly run out of stars to pass by! We've seen how thousands of those dots streak past on a trip from Bajor to Cardassia - a trip that supposedly goes from one star to its immediate neighbor, at most passing one other star en route...

    Plenty of possibilities there. Dust impacting on the warp field, perhaps. Or starlight from distant stars getting distorted not just once, but in a cyclic fashion so that the same stars "streak by" over and over again (see how a warp field supposedly is sort of peristaltic-cyclic in the TNG "Where No One Has Gone Before" diagrams).

    Okay, and perhaps one out of a hundred or thousand of those dots is in fact the distorted image of a star. That'd explain how, when a ship slows down, some of those streaks (but not nearly all) coalesce into static dots that supposedly indeed are stars.

    Now, whether those explanations that are necessary for the TNG era should be applied back at the very different-looking TOS effects, partially or in full... Probably not.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. cobalt1365

    cobalt1365 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    A starships bussard collectors magnetically attract stray hydrogen molecules and pull them into the ship's ramscoop on the front of its necelles. It could be safe to assume that as the hydrogen molecules pass through the warp field they would be excited and begin to glow. Of course that doesn't explain all the streaks moving past the ship, but that's my best guess
     
  17. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    This is quite on point. I have a program called Celestia that also allows you to see what it would look like to be moving through the galaxy at faster-than-light speeds. If you crank it up enough to thousands of times the speed of light some of the nearer stars to your position do indeed look much like what we see on TOS. It's rather cool.

    Of course this is based on the assumption that warp space still somehow looks very much like normal space. The program would be more accurate if it showed Lorentz distortion as you approached the speed of light.
     
  18. Shaw

    Shaw Commodore Commodore

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    I was always fine with stars, but when in doubt return to the beginning to see if they attempted to tell us... for example, the opening shot in The Cage has them talking about meteoroids and the process (meteoroid beam/deflector) for keeping them from impacting the ship in flight.

    So if stars aren't a good enough explanation, then they could be energized particles of debris accelerated by the ship's velocity via the meteoroid beam and slowing down as they move passed the ship (disappearing moments after it passes).

    I've found that with TOS they sometimes attempted to explain things early on, but later relaxed once they were comfortable with their audience. In the first few episodes, aspects of how things worked (a mechanism for deflecting random space debris and for producing gravitation within the ship) were fitted into dialog (most likely at the suggestion of their consultants from NASA and Rand), but dropped off as they felt that the audience was getting comfortable with the environment.

    But lets face it, in TOS they had a handful of effects shots that they used over and over again, and the moving dots were designed to show a different speed from the dots in the background so that it didn't just look like the model was moving in front of a static background. So just like using an 11 foot model was done to add perspective in shots (making the Enterprise seem quite large), those dots were design to make space feel sort of 3D on the screen.

    I always thought it was a nice touch even if it wasn't realistic. It helped make the show visually exciting even back in an era where most of the people watching were seeing it on low resolution black and white TVs.
     
  19. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How would the scenes "feel' to you if the stars moved Physically correctly under impulse or warp drive?
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Sublight travel at anything under half lightspeed probably wouldn't look like anything at all: the stars would be static. At higher speeds, one would begin to get redshift/blueshift, and the light from stars to the side and aft would eventually stop reaching the ship at all, resulting in tunnel vision.

    Warp travel might look like an extreme version of relativistic travel: pitch black, save for one hyper-bright spot dead ahead (mostly gamma rays and even more energetic stuff, theoretically infinitely energetic in fact). Or then it might look like Newtonian space again - which would mean Celestia-like, or TOS-like, flow of stars.

    Timo Saloniemi