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Showing posts tagged: planets click to see more stuff tagged with planets
Nov 23 2011 4:00pm

Let’s Not Visit The Planet That Perpetually Lets You Down. 100 Planets by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey

100 Strips. 100 Mondays. This 100 word review of 100 Planets.

Englishman Daniel Merlin Goodbrey contemplates the planets we have yet to find, those we have found and those we wish to forget. Strips are formatted beautifully — not in lined panels but on the face of the damn planet itself with the trail of a rocketship leading you in the correct reading direction. (This is important in the Planet that [Perpetually] Lets You Down). The strip is not hung up on continuity, other than the conventions of the planet shaped panels, and one strip may occasionally wink to another. Even the characters have round, planet shaped heads!

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Nov 18 2011 3:00pm

Imaginary Exoplanets

Extrasolar planets have been a staple of science fiction pretty much from the get-go. My favorite fictional movie planet is probably Metaluna of This Island Earth. For one thing, who could possibly trump that wonderfully evocative name? Besides, it’s beautifully realized in the movie, with its cratered surface bombarded by radio-controlled meteors and its underground civilization. Then again, it might just be because it was the first exoplanet I had ever been introduced to.

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Sep 26 2011 4:00pm

The Planet Artists: Chesley Bonestell, Lucien Rudaux, and Ludek Pesek

Just about everyone doing the kind of space art I do (sometimes referred to as “rock and ball” space art), owes something to Chesley Bonestell. While not the first artist to specialize in astronomical art, he raised to the level of fine art.

A classically trained painter, Bonestell began his career as an architect and architectural renderer. During this time, he contributed to the design of such American icons as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Chrysler Building. He took his painting skills and the knowledge of perspective, light and shadow to Hollywood where he entered the second phase of his long career, creating special effects matte paintings. He worked on such classic films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Citizen Kane. All the scenes showing the cathedral and medieval Paris in the former are Bonestell’s artwork as are the scenes of 19th century New York and Kane’s Xanadu.

[Space art ahead!]

Nov 9 2010 3:43pm

Is Pluto the biggest dwarf planet after all?

Pluto’s controversial demotion from planetary status came in 2006 after the rapid discovery of comparably sized bodies—now named Haumea, Makemake and Eris—made Pluto look rather ordinary. In particular, Eris was found to be larger in diameter than Pluto, raising the question of what separated a planet from numerous smaller bodies. The International Astronomical Union decided on a new definition for planets that resulted in a paring down the solar system’s tally of planets to eight, relegating Pluto and its ilk to dwarf planet status.

Pluto lovers of the world may take some small comfort in a new look at Eris that puts Pluto back in the running for the largest dwarf planet, diameter-wise. (Eris seems to retain a lock on the title of most massive dwarf planet for the time being.) Measurements taken as Eris temporarily blotted out the light of a distant star indicate that the dwarf planet’s diameter is on par with, and maybe even smaller than, that of Pluto.

[Read more]

Reprinted from ScientificAmerican.com with permission from Scientific American.
Feb 9 2009 12:07pm

A wish for something different at the frontier

So, there’s a planet, and on the planet there’s a human settlement, or area of settlement, which humans don’t go far from, and there are also intelligent aliens. The humans and the aliens have been in contact for a while, but the humans don’t really understand the aliens. Then our protagonist is captured by the aliens, or goes to a part of the planet where humans don’t go, and discovers the fascinating truth about the aliens. This usually but not always leads to better a human/alien relationship thereafter.

How many books fit that template?

In my post on Octavia Butler’s Survivor, I suggested three other examples: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Star of Danger (and I could have added Darkover Landfall), C.J. Cherryh’s Forty Thousand in Gehenna, and Judith Moffett’s Pennterra. In comments people mentioned Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, Jonathan Lethem’s Girl in Landscape, Amy Thomson’s The Color of Distance, Ursula Le Guin’s Rocannon’s World, Planet of Exile and The Left Hand of Darkness (though that doesn’t have a human settlement) and I further thought of Mary Gentle’s Golden Witchbreed and Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite. Please suggest more in comments if you have some!

In that lot we have some variation on a theme. Some of the “aliens” are practically human and some of them are really really alien. Sometimes things turn out well, sometimes terribly. Sometimes the protagonist goes native, sometimes the aliens get destroyed. But with all those variations, we also definitely have a theme.

[Read more...]

Sep 15 2008 11:05pm

Alien Worlds

For the first time astronomers have obtained an image of a likely planet orbiting a distant but sun-like star.  Like a lot of claims back in the 1990s about repeated “first” discoveries of black holes, there are a number of issues to consider about these early announcements.  We’re going to see a lot more “first” planet images of various sorts in years to come, and have already seen a couple around low-mass brown dwarf stars.  Still, this is wicked cool and a hint of a flood of information to come about planets in our galaxy.  Let’s see the picture. gemini planet

The big thing in the middle is the sun-like star, some 500 light-years away from us.  The faint speck circled in red is our purported exoplanet, thought to be some 330 astronomical units (AU) from its sun (Earth is 1 AU from the sun, and Jupiter is 5 AUs).  The bar on the bottom left shows an angle of one arcsecond, which is 1/3600 of a degree.  The official caption for the image reads:

Gemini adaptive optics image of 1RSX J160929.1-210524 and its likely ~8 Jupiter-mass companion (within red circle). This image is a composite of J-, H- and K-band near-infrared images. All images obtained with the Gemini Altair adaptive optics system and the Near-Infrared Imager (NIRI) on the Gemini North telescope. Photo Credit and Press Release: Gemini Observatory.

[More below the fold...]

Jul 27 2008 3:25pm

Total Immersion: Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy

Somebody has borrowed my copy of Citizen of the Galaxy. (If you give it back safely, no questions will be asked. You'll know if it's mine, it's an old battered Puffin edition with a boy on the cover holding a begging bowl full of stars.) In the meantime, because sometimes when I need to read something nothing else will do, I re-read it out of the library a couple of weeks ago.

What Heinlein was unbeatable at was writing total immersion. His universes hold together perfectly, even though he describes them with very few strokes. From the first words of Citizen you're caught, you're there beside the slave block that stands by the spaceport in Jubbalpore as a beggar buys a slave. There's something so compelling about the prose, about the story, that I find myself totally sucked in every time. There are books I can re-read in a fairly detached way -- I do know what's going to happen, after all -- but this isn't one of them. I'd love to analyse how Heinlein does it -- I'd love to be able to copy how Heinlein does it, and so would a lot of people -- but no, the sheer force of storytelling drags me through at one sitting without pause every single time.

[More below the fold...]