See the nearest stars (within 16 light years) to the Solar System in 3D

Monday, May 31, 2010

You can see them here, though you'll need to have Silverlight installed. The reason for the 16 light year boundary is that's when parallax begins to become inaccurate and distances become much more approximate, and the list of stars nearest to the Earth on Wikipedia also states this. The 3D graph also shows the colours of the nearby stars, which makes it easy to note just how many red dwarfs there are compared to the rest, and since theory dictates that smaller objects are more common there are certainly even more brown dwarfs than that, possibly even closer to us than Alpha Centauri (closest but also almost directly south in comparison to the Earth).

It would have been nice to also have the radial velocity (the velocity that shows whether a star is approaching or moving away from the Earth), but no big deal.

And now that we're on the subject of parallax I can finally share this link I've been meaning to show for quite some time, on some of the immediate benefits an interstellar probe would bring. Parallax in astronomy basically means the ability to accurately judge the distance from one object to another by comparing views from different locations, and the farther out a probe gets the more accurate parallax becomes.

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