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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:59 AM
Original message
Looking for astronomy related info
Can anyone point me to a list (preferably online) of stars visible from earth which includes the star's spectral class and distance in light years? Information on the presumed structure of the galaxy would also be useful, especially if it includes mention of visible stars that are not in our own galactic arm.
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longship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 11:27 AM
Response to Original message
1. You want Burnham's Celestial Handbook
Yes, the coordinates are slightly out of date, but you'll not find a more comprehensive set of books on general amateur astronomy any where else. Also, they're inexpensive--~$15 each for the three volumes.

They are arranged by constellation:
Volume 1 - Andormeda to Cetus
Volume II - Chameleon to Orion
Volume III - Pavo to Vulpecula

They should be available at any good bookstore. There's no better resource.

Volume I at Amazon

Otherwise, what you want is a star catalog. Google "star catalog" and see what you get.
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Out of date is just fine
I'm working on a science fiction novel; with luck I will start shopping it to publishers in late summer 2007. The background posits the start of interstellar exploration in early 2200, with the story taking place a bit more than 200 years latter. We've only explored the "local neighborhood"; the stars we've visited (and set up research stations and four colonies) are all visible from Earth on a clear night. It would be embarassing to get the distance to Spica incorrect or put colonies around stars that are too far away for us to have explored yet.

Thanks for the hint! I will probably get the full set.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Maybe you're looking for something like this?
http://nstars.nau.edu

NStars Database originated in 1998 and is currently based at Northern Arizona University. Its mission is to be a complete and accurate source of scientific data about all stellar systems within 25 parsecs.

http://nstars.nau.edu/index.cfm?fuseaction=nstars.histo...

The ultimate goal in establishing the NStars Database is to produce a carefully selected list of target stars for TPF.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrestrial_Planet_Finder

The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) is a plan by NASA for a telescope system that would be capable of detecting extrasolar terrestrial planets.

Top 100 TPF target stars
...

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Wow, thanks!
That should be a very handy tool.
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longship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Ah!!! You *really* want Burnham's for that.
Edited on Thu Oct-12-06 02:06 PM by longship
Robert Burnham puts all sorts of star lore for many of the major stars, including the history of their names, references in literature, and a wealth of other scientific information. Since you are writing a novel, you'll find Burnham to be absolutely invaluable.

You will *never* regret purchasing these books. I treasure mine. They are that good.
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 01:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. Don't forget Norton's Star Atlas ...
Edited on Thu Oct-12-06 01:12 PM by eppur_se_muova
or check out

http://www.skymaps.com /

and

http://www.fourmilab.to/yoursky /

scroll to the bottom of that last one and you'll see "related software"

Related Software

Windows users can create planetarium displays like this in real time, on their own machines, as
well as view the Earth, sky, stars at the horizon, track Earth satellites, and more with Home
Planet, my public domain Earth/Space/Sky simulator. Other related resources on this site are:

On the Web:
Earth and Moon Viewer.
Solar System Live: interactive orrery.
Moon at Perigee and Apogee.
Terranova: a new terraformed planet every day.

For Windows:
Home Planet, Sky screen saver, Moontool, Craters screen saver, and an Excel catalogue of
the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey.

For Unix (X/OpenWindows):
Moontool, and Xsunclock.

All of these packages and more can be located from my home page.
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:15 PM
Response to Original message
7. Don't forget wikipedia... :)
Edited on Thu Oct-12-06 08:36 PM by Dead_Parrot
For instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Yellow_dwarfs is a list of Sun-like stars: Those with Bayer names (i.e, Tau Ceti but not HD 65216) should be naked eye stars capable of supporting earth-like planets, which I'm guessing would be candidates for colonisation.

Plus, if it's been used for fiction already (like Tau Ceti) this will probably be mentioned.

Anything with a magnitude of 6 or more isn't naked eye anymore, but I don't think there are any in the Bayer system: Mag 3 is the rule-of-thumb limit for visibility from a light-polluted city, if that helps.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Bayer_objects could act as a quick reference for all naked-eye stars, if you want to go outside our spectral class: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_stars might be worth a look as well...

Enjoy :)

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 10:57 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. That's my primary source
But it is always useful to have some place where I can ask questions, or find handy charts.

And actually, in the universe I envision, worlds that can be colonized are pretty rare. Not only does the gravity, heat, light, amount of water and quantity of oxygen need to be correct, there can't be any thing toxic. It wouldn't do if the biological processes which produce free oxygen used a cycle of sulphur dioxide rather than carbon dioxide, for example, or if the crust contained large quantities of lead, arsenic or selenium, or if indigenous microbes used a protein very similar to cone snail venom in their life processes. That scarcity gives rise to part of the drama I'm working on. :hi:
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