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These are some of the highlights of Stars in the NeighborHood™ software.
Space travel would mean little to most of us unless it meant there was someplace to go. Imagine traveling to Mars or Saturn. Each possesses exotic qualities. But for most of us, the buzz would only last a few minutes—not quite worth the several months to get there.
But where there are planets in other star systems, there may be a planet like Earth. That could make all the difference in the universe.
Now imagine, instead of Mars, a frostier version of Earth with oceans, mountains and forests. And imagine that it takes only minutes or hours instead of months to get there. The number of people hooked on space travel would, well,... skyrocket. The reason? Planets—Earth-like planets. That's the holy grail for space and astronomy. We can all feel the excitement when we suddenly realize that there are other, friendly islands in the dark of space as easy destinations.
Astronomers have discovered over 3,000 planets in other star systems. Though all of them are too big and gaseous to be vacation or retirement destinations, they hint at the strong possibility of Earth-like worlds amongst them. Many of them are close enough to reside in the Solar vicinity.
Artist's painting of an alien sun, Earth-like planet and its moon. Copyright © 2006 Carl Martin.
The constellations are not as fixed as the ancients thought they were. Stars move! But if the viewer (you) moves to other star systems, then it's a whole new ball game. Even next-door Alpha Centauri has some strange twists on some otherwise familiar constellations. There are nearly two million Alien Skies views in here. Discover some views of the universe that few, if any, have ever seen.
To get a feel of where we are in the universe, this feature—Zoom Out Universe—takes you on a Grand Tour, scale-wise at least, from Earth all the way out to the Local Group of galaxies.
Show Select, allows you to see both the "forest" and the "trees." You know the old expression: you can't see the forest, because all of the trees are in the way. With "Show Select," you can winnow out the thickness of "too many" stars, and concentrate on only certain star types which interest you.