Tagged: planet

Artist impression of the planet Nachtwacht (Night Watch), a red, white and blue gas giant, with two of ots moons as well as parent star Sterrennacht (Starry Night)

Holland in the Sky: Night Watch and Starry Night

Since December 17, the Netherlands has two new far outposts: the planet Night Watch and the star Starry Night. The IAU, the International Astronomical Union, asked us to come up with a name for those two celestial bodies, which were previously known under the somewhat boring character combinations HAT-P-6 and HAT-P-6b. The inhabitants of the 111 other countries affiliated with the IAU were also assigned a cosmic duo, as part of the NameExoWorlds campaign. Rembrandt and Van Gogh Out of 6,000 suggestions submitted by the public, the national jury chose a shortlist of five name twins, of which Nijntje (Miffy)...

Artist impression of the ESA probe Huygens, landing on Titan, largest moon of the planet Saturn, in january 2005

Space Quotes

This collection of quotes, wisecracks and oneliners was originally tweeted from the, nowadays pretty dormant, Modified MarsTwitteraccount. I felt they deserved a more permanent location; after all, colonizing the Galaxy is a long term project. Some of these quotes are funny, others are dead serious; occasionally they’re both. They all are, sometimes very obvious, in other cases rather remotely, linked to themes like Mars, spaceflight, astronomy or the universe in general. And since I call this an image blog, I illustrate this page with some space art I’ve produced over the years. “We are all in the gutter, but some of...

The Dry Earth: Reversed Terraforming

After terraforming Mars quite a few times, I’ve now done the reverse thing: martifying Earth. What would our planet look like if all the water suddenly disappeared? Like a Pale Yellow Dot, a kind of cross-over between the Moon and Mars. Warming-up No, this is not a warning about the effects of global warming. Those are worrying enough, but in the short term they mainly mean that we have to deal with more instead of less water. Speculation On the other hand: sometimes planets lose a lot of water in the course of their existence. Mars, for example, once had...

The Drowned Earth: a world map as it looks after the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have melted, around 4000 AD

The Drowned Earth: 4000 AD, After The Thaw

What would the world map look like if all the polar ice would melt? And how long does it take to get there? These are interesting questions now that climate change is – finally – on the political agenda. And as a cartographer, I could not resist the temptation to visualize the worst case scenario. Gravity When the Greenland ice sheet melts, the sea level rises 7 meters, when the ice melts in Antarctica it causes a rise of 58 meters. So together that makes 65 meters. But that is an average. Because something else plays a role: gravity. Such...

The planets Earth and Mars represented by two beach balls in the sand, on the right scale ratio to each other.

Two planets on the beach

Among the general public, there’s remarkably little awareness of the solar system, our immediate environment, our neighbourhood. Many people simply don’t know the difference between the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. Even Dutch national quality newspaper the Volkskrant once wrote that Jupiter is the largest planet in the universe (I’ll never forgive them). Naming the eight planets in the right order is a basic skill that few people posses. Knowledge about the size and mutual distances of these celestial bodies is also very limited. Beach balls For some reason, many people think that Mars is bigger than the...

Atmospheric nocturnal picture of a terraformed Moon, low above the horizon, that shines its green-yellow light on a slightly undulating water surface with a sailboat on it

Getting Used to a Terraformed Moon

The last few weeks, I have once again been busy with an old hobby of mine: terraforming. A word that the spelling checker does not even know, but in science-fiction one can read it quite often: it’s about making other planets more friendly for lifeforms from Earth by adjusting the temperature and the atmosphere. Mars and Venus The terraforming of Mars is actually not that complicated. Simply pumping CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will start a runaway greenhouse effect that turns up the heat and thickens the atmosphere. On our homeworld we are already practicing, unintentionally. What...

Planetary road sign in a museum-like setting showing the directions and distances to the sun, the moon and the seven planets

Building a Planetary Road Sign

There must be many of them: those funny signposts that indicate the direction and the distance to places that are usually quite far away. Tokio 9597 kilometers, Kinshasa 6379 kilometers, Mahabalipuram 8106 kilometers. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought a few weeks ago, if there was a signpost like that showing the directions and distances for the sun, the moon and the planets? Why doesn’t such a planetary road sign actually exist? Of course I immediately knew the answer. The planets all have their orbits around the sun and the moon revolves around one of those planets: the Earth. And...

An old and rustyCitroën Deux Chevaux, launched with a Falcon Heavy rocket by SpaceX, en route to Mars

Chasing Elon Musk in an old French car

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX, one of the companies owned by Elon Musk, launched the first Falcon Heavy. A giant leap for mankind, like Neil Armstrong would have said, because with this rocket, manned missions to the Moon (once again) and to Mars become possible. And those missions also become a lot cheaper than before, because large parts of the rocket return to Earth and can therefore be used again.   Starman On such a first test flight you don’t take expensive satellites. Usually a block of concrete is used as ballast, but Elon had a better idea: he sent...

Artist impression of Terminator, the city moving accross Mercury from the science fiction novel 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Terminator, Urbanism on Mercury

A few days ago American writer Kim Stanley Robinson shared on his Facebook page an artist impression that I made a few years ago, featuring Terminator, the mobile city on Mercury from his novel 2312. Robinson called it a beautiful visualization; or well, actually his literary agent called it that, but of course she wouldn’t have done so if the author didn’t agree. Enthusiasm by the creator of the concept, that is of course a nice compliment for an impression artist. I made the illustration two years ago after reading 2312. For some reason Robinson’s work often inspires me to...

Space art, showing the Earth-like planet Alice with a remarkable landscape full of islands and lakes and in the background gas giant Goliath

Alice and Goliath – two worlds out of many

How many Earth-like planets are there in the universe? In other words: how many doubles does our beautiful water world have? We’ll never get anywhere near an exact answer but “very, very much” is, most likely, pretty close to the truth. There are about 200 billion stars in our own galaxy. The number of galaxies in the universe is, coincidentally, also around 200 billion. So we are talking about roughly 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. Even if only one in a million stars has an Earth-like planet orbiting around it, which seems like a pessimistic estimate, we still have an unimaginable number of...