Nautilus - A Quick Spin Around the Big Dipper
I wrote a blog for Nautilus Magazine's Illusions issue on how the constellations of our night sky are mere projection effects that disappear the second you change your viewpoint.
From our perspective here on Earth, constellations appear to be fixed groups of stars, immobile on the sky. But what if we could change that perspective?
In reality, it’d be close to impossible. We would have to travel tens to hundreds of light-years away from Earth for any change in the constellations to even begin to be noticeable. As of this moment, the farthest we (or any object we’ve made) have traveled is less than one five-hundreth of a light-year.
Just for fun, let’s say we could. What would our familiar patterns look like then? The stars that comprise them are all at different distances from us, traveling around the galaxy at different speeds, and living vastly different lives. Very few of them are even gravitationally bound to each other. Viewed from the side, they break apart into unrecognizable landscapes, their stories of gods and goddesses, ploughs and ladles, exposed as pure human fantasy. We are reminded that we live in a very big place.
Read the full article here.