What would you rather see in the night sky?

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askold

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Rings (like Saturn) or a single big satellite like the moon?<br /><br />If the Earth had Saturn-type rings what would they look like from the Earth?<br />
 
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Leovinus

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I'd rather see rings. But having the Moon out there is more practical for space travel. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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spayss

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I would think our Moon would eclipse (excuse the pun) almost any other object viewed from the surface of a planet in our solar system. If we didn't have an object as spectacular as our moon, we'd want one.
 
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askold

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It seems like there's an artist's rendering of everything these days - has anyone seen a rendering of what rings look like from a planet surface?<br /><br />All the photo's of rings I've seen are from the point of view of an orbiting space craft.
 
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thalion

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Rings would be beautiful, but I wouldn't want to live on a planet with rings for several reasons:<br /><br />1.) If we were born on a planet with rings we'd probably ignore them, just like plenty of people ignore the Moon.<br /><br />2.) Depending on their mass, composition, and extent they would block much of the night (and daytime sky), or at least cut down on contrast. Who knows what the effects of a ring shadow would be on global climate, either?<br /><br />3.) The rings would make space travel and launches quite hazardous. You'd have to launch only in the equatorial plane, and even then have to be heavily-shielded.<br /><br />4.) One interesting result of living on a planet with rings is that there would probably be a constant stream of meteors entering the atmosphere over the equator, which would be a spectacular sight, I think.<br /><br />5.) By the way, on Mercury the Sun would look anywhere from 3.2 to 2.2 times larger than it does on Earth, and 4.8 to 10.2 times brighter, depending on where Mercury is in its orbit.<br /><br />Mercury fact sheet:<br />http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/mercuryfact.html<br /><br />A nebula would be beautiful, but honestly by eye it would probably be underwhelming compared to photography. Personally, I'd take a nearby (~500-1000 ly) globular cluster, or very close (30 ly) open cluster. Imagine the Pleiades or Beehive from close-up. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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silylene old

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A very close binary star pair at the center of the solar system (instead of a single sun) would look very interesting. Image a red giant feeding a companion star, in real time!<br /><br />Of course the planet may not be very habitable for long! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><em><font color="#0000ff">- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -</font></em> </div><div class="Discussion_UserSignature" align="center"><font color="#0000ff"><em>I really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function.</em></font> </div> </div>
 
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wisefool

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I would rather have a single large moon like ours, or a small one farther out. A spectacular set of rings would block many other celestial wonders from our view. We already lose a lot of vision to dust in our galaxy. Rings would only compound our loss.<br /><br />As for the effect of rings, using Saturn's as a model:<br /><br />1) I doubt that we would "ignore" spectacular rings!<br /><br />2) These rings are very thin, so at times and from places they would have minimal effect on our views; and at other times and places a bad effect. The shadow could have some effect, but not if "our" planet were like giant Saturn.<br /><br />3) The rings are discrete and very thin, so it would not be a problem to avoid them. Heck, the Cassini flew through one of the rings' divisions! What kind of heavy shielding would be needed if we simply avoided them?<br /><br />4) These Saturn rings have persisted for hundreds of millions of years. They are not rapidly decomposing with a constant stream of meteors.<br /><br />Actually, we have an open cluster just 70 light years away. It is called The Big Dipper (or most of the brightest elements anyway). The closer the open cluster, the harder it is to recognize it as a cluster.
 
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thalion

Guest
To address your points (note: all of these arguments depend crucially on the density of the hypothetical rings):<br /><br />1.) Perhaps "ignore" was too strong a word. "Take for granted" is better. Our Moon is a unique body in the Solar System, and the only (real) major satellite of the terrestrial planets. That said, even amateur astronomers will gripe about it washing out the night sky. I doubt the general public gives it much thought.<br /><br />2.) I mostly agree. The obscuration of the night sky would vary on a seasonal basis (assuming the axis is tilted, of course), and could be mitigated by moving north or south of the equator. However, the effect of the ring shadow should not be underestimated, IMO, especially if it lasts for months at a time. Atmospheres and climates are notoriously sensitive and unpredictable, and minor inputs can have major effects. I won't say that the climatic effects would definitely be deleterious, but I think they would have some impact.<br /><br />3.) Cassini flew through a very thin portion of the rings; actually, it moved through a gap in an area of the ring system already known to be sparsely-populated. The A, B, and C rings are another matter; the D ring, although thin, extends all the way to the cloud tops:<br /><br />http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/satringfact.html<br /><br />Avoiding the rings would be difficult. Even if we launched in the ring plane, we'd still have to navigate in the direct path of the ring particles. The greater the difference in orbital inclination from the rings, the greater the relative speed, and the more energetic any possible impacts. If these rings were hazardous throughout the Roche limit of the planet, we'd have to opt for an arc trajectory that completely misses them; this would be possible, but probably very fuel-costly.<br /><br />4.) The rings are probably being constantly replenishe
 
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askold

Guest
If the Earth had rings rather than a moon, then Richard Rogers would never have written "Blue Moon". However, we'd still be able to dance to "Ring of Fire".
 
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kmarinas86

Guest
In the night sky I'd rather see City turned upside down... one that you could fly upto in an airplane <img src="/images/icons/tongue.gif" /> There would be huge "lakes" in this city through which you would see the stars themselves.
 
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arcticfox

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Big rainbows<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Dio?<br /><br /><img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br />
 
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jazman

Guest
You would never be able to see a view of a hugh or even a small galaxy from a window of a ship or habitation (no matter where you were positioned.<br /><br />We can't even see our whole huge galaxy from earth, we see only our general neighborhood. The center of our own gakaxy is too far away to see with the naked eye. It takes powerful telescopes to see galaxys.<br /><br />If you were traveling very fast and heading for another galaxy, you would first see a few stars and then a few more, etc.<br /><br />Think of driving to a big city, you see a sign (entering New York) but you only see a few houses "hey where's the huge city" once your there, you can't see those houses.<br /><br />When I learned this it took some time to sink in and once it did, I was kind of bummed out. but, I was also amazed at the vastness of it all.<br /><br />Have fun<br /><br />
 
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alokmohan

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The moon I meanour moon is real prime mover of astronomy.She is unique.
 
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vogon13

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How about rings around our moon? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000"><strong>TPTB went to Dallas and all I got was Plucked !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#339966"><strong>So many people, so few recipes !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Let's clean up this stinkhole !!</strong></font> </p> </div>
 
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CalliArcale

Guest
<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>We can't even see our whole huge galaxy from earth, we see only our general neighborhood. The center of our own gakaxy is too far away to see with the naked eye. It takes powerful telescopes to see galaxys. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />You make some very good analogies, jazman, especially the analogy of traveling into New York City without actually seeing it.<br /><br />However, you actually don't need powerful telescopes to see galaxies. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you will be treated to the sight of the Greater and Lesser Magellanic Clouds. They aren't actually clouds, of course. They are small irregular galaxies that are gravitationally bound to the Milky Way. They are satellite galaxies, and not only can be seen with the naked eye, but take up a considerable portion of the southern night sky.<br /><br />The Milky Way dominates the northern hemisphere, especially in the summer, and what you see isn't actually just the immediate neighborhood; it's the brightest part of the galaxy. In the constellation Sagitarrius is the Galactic Center. You can't see it, but not because of distance. You can't see it because vast lanes of dust block our view. But it can be seen in other, non visible frequencies, which produce startling results.<br /><br />Other galaxies are present in the night sky but are too dim to be seen unless you've got a telescope or very dark skies. The closest large galaxy is the big spiral called the Andromeda Galaxy. It covers more of the night sky than the full moon, but you usually can't see it because it's too faint. Telescopes on low magnification can help, by augmenting the light-gathering abilities of your eyes. But the best way to see it is not with a telescope at all. The best way is with a camera. On a dark night, take a long exposure of the Andromeda constellation. The galaxy should turn up when you get the film developed.<br /><br />We see all of these spectacular pi <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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larper

Guest
I would rather see large man made constructs, and the flares of huge spacecraft as they head out to far destinations.<br /><br />Visitors would be nice too. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong><font color="#ff0000">Vote </font><font color="#3366ff">Libertarian</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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alpha_taur1

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"I'd rather be live in a habitation which looks out on a huge galaxy. What a sight, most nights! "<br /><br />You guys in the Northern Hemisphere really miss out on the Magellanic clouds. In a dark location, they are really spectacular.
 
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aaron38

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Mars has a pretty good night sky with it's two moons. They are very small but also very close. From the surface Phobos looks almost as large as our Moon.<br /><br />And they move across the sky in oposite directions!<br />
 
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hansolo0

Guest
I can think of several alternate scenarious:<br /><br />1. Earth orbits a gas giant - how about seeing a gas giant every night, or day for that matter in the sky? I've always wondered how that would work, if it were possible , could a planet orbit over the poles (over the 'top' or north and south poles of the gas giant) to still give the same amount of daylight we now have (i.e. so the gas giant does not block out the sun..?<br /><br />2. The moon has an atmosphere - maybe even habitable - This is highly unlikely, give the moon's size but fun to think about. Even if it weren't habitable<br />maybe have Titan or something like it as our moon? If the moon were habitable - how fast would that've sped up the space program?<br /><br />3. Mars is habitable - Similar to #2<br /><br />4. Our solar system could exist in a nebula - we could see green or red, etc night skies.<br /><br />5. Jupiter etc becomes a star ala 2010, I know it's too small, but would we have night time anymore?<br /><br />-pure wish fulfillment , I know.
 
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