View Full Version : Near-Solar Space

04-13-2011, 01:17 AM
Well as you know I have mapped my Sci Fi setting before (here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4375-Milky-Way-Galaxy)).

However, that map never quite satisfied me, mostly because it was so large-scale that it had to omit detail. I don't care that much about the third dimension, but it bothered me that I could never, ever, hope to map every star system there is. So I took a step back and began to map out near-Earth space.

The Jump connections have a max range of 7.7 light years, distances between stars greater than this is not shown. The 7.7 light-years limit was originally used in that great RPG, 2300AD, but as I mapped out these worlds I discovered that GDW had picked 7.7 light years for a reason: Less, and you can't go anywhere; more, and you don't get a very tree-like structure to your space travel. So I decided it'd be silly to pick some other value just to do things differently, at least once this map is done it could also serve as an updated 2300AD map.

And, yes. This is hand-created, and I should really automate the process. The entire star list I am working off of is very short - it contains only about 2600 stars.


04-17-2011, 09:59 PM
I totally understand about the issues with detail. Will you be finishing your other map? I really hope so. It was your original map that sparked me to create my own (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14360-My-First-Galaxy-Map). I do like this map as well. I've been looking for a way to create a map of our seller neighborhood. Are you going to develop this any more?

04-18-2011, 01:46 AM
The "other map" is definitely on hold. I'm going to develop that universe from the ground up, or at least that is the current plan. Let me add the current wip of this map and you'll see what my current issue is.....


....it gets really messy really quickly.

04-18-2011, 02:44 AM
It looks like a great start. By the way, I've been looking through your Enderra journal. I absolutely love it! It's a shame that you have to be far across the ocean and not closer by. I'd love to talk more! :)

04-18-2011, 02:07 PM
Well I have email and instant messenger and I love to talk about world building so don't hesitate - send me a PM with what you prefer using. Also, if you are on enderra.com, I looove feedback, don't be afraid to leave comments. ;)

As for the map, well... you do not find it hard to follow those jumplanes?

04-26-2011, 11:05 AM
Well I have email and instant messenger and I love to talk about world building so don't hesitate - send me a PM with what you prefer using. Also, if you are on enderra.com, I looove feedback, don't be afraid to leave comments. ;)

As for the map, well... you do not find it hard to follow those jumplanes?

I like this so far. I think you might want to fade the jumplanes a bit to match the distance text. That way they don't overpower the star icons or the star names. I think that would make it a lot less confusing to look at.

Edit: Also, You could potentially zoom in a little more and thin the jumplanes a little but leave the text and star icons the same size, which would put some more white space between the stars. That might help, but it also might push the map to be too big dimensionally.

You could also consider creating a larger scale map that shows only major transit hubs separated into colored regions, then create more detailed zoomed in maps of those regions in this style. The zoomed in maps would show the major transit hubs with a different star icon which would make it easy to orientate yourself to the larger scale map. Some jumplanes would lead off map, and potentially some stars from adjacent regions would show up as well.

Just suggestions. I think what you have so far is pretty darn good as it is though.

04-27-2011, 03:32 AM
I suggest to give up the absolute positioning. The interesting information is the relative distance of two arbitrary stars and since you lose the z-coordinate (or its graphic representation) anyways you could rearrange the stars to simplify the jump line patterns.

04-27-2011, 04:01 AM
I'm working on a 1ly = 1cm scale. The resulting map will be ~70cm in diameter. I don't really want to zoom the scale in, as this will make it really hard to print the thing eventually. I could make the stars, labels etc smaller, but they are already tiny. Yes eventually I will want major / minor routes, that should help a little, but until I know what colonies are where, that's not possible either. Omitting star system is kind of moot since the point of this exercise is to include all stars; I had a large scale "galactic" map that had way less detail and in the end it did not satisfy me.

Thanks for the suggestions though.

I did experiment with creating basically a flowchart of stars; I actually prefer the absolute positioning since it DOES help me figure out what stars are close enough to each other to have jump routes. Yes I should really script that. Anyway, for actual practical use later on the absolute positioning is not really too useful. I'll attach a flowchart of these stars:


Since this was an experiment, I eventually stopped putting distances on the connections. Sol/Earth is a box shape, it is on the left end of the branch in the lower right corner. The stars in the upper right corner are not yet connected to the rest - there is actually another cluster of 20+ stars that is unconnected to the rest and which I didn't include yet.

04-27-2011, 10:53 AM
Current WIPs:

First, the absolute positioning map:


then the "relative positioning" map:


As you can see I added a whole bunch of stars - there are 240 stars (counting multiple stars within systems for the sake of simplicity) out of my list of 2600 stars.

The abstract "relative" map should now include all stars that are connected to at least one other star.

That unconnected blob of stars in the upper right (of the "relative" map) bothers me, and with each star I add I hope to finally connect it. No luck, so far. If mankind is to ever explore that region, they will have to get there with a huge detour. (Of course I can always cheat and add undiscovered brown dwarfs or what have you).

Anyway, I think having this kind of structure to a region of space is much, much more interesting than the Trekqueque "push a button and go anywhere at the speed of plot".

04-27-2011, 11:35 AM
Considering the expected distribution of stars by mass, it would be exceptionally unlikely that there aren't at least a hundred undiscovered brown dwarf stars on a map of this scale. We just can't detect them very far from Earth at the moment. (We discover them at the moment almost exclusively by the influence they have over the stars that we can see.)
I was writing some code to generate a starmap/jumpmap for a strategy game I was working on and I ran into a similar problem with the distances and linking groups of stars while keeping a relatively tree shaped distribution. I ended up making the maximum distance of a jump link a function of the masses of the stars to be linked.

So two high mass stars would have a maximum distance between them for a jump link much larger than a high mass star and a low mass star, and much much longer than two low mass stars.

I never settled on exactly what the distances would be, I generated hundreds of random maps testing out different parameters. The last time I was working on it, I was leaning towards a function/algorithm that made low mass stars have only 1 to 4 links of very short distance and high mass stars many many links with greater distances. Which gave natural choke points/trade routes between the high mass stars and either long and cumbersome routes to avoid those choke points using the low mass stars. I should check to see if I still have the code around here somewhere.

Edit: I can't seem to find the code for the most recent version of the stuff I was working on, but here are a few screen shots of an early version of the software.

04-27-2011, 03:29 PM
In a way I have found that science fiction was a lot more fun 50 years ago when the cosm was still a big unknown. You know, back when we could still dream about FTL and exotic aliens two worlds over.

At least some uncertainties remain, and it's not only brown dwarfs. I know that we're getting pretty good about pinpointing stars but there's still a lot of error margin in those positions.

Now, as for jump routes: I haven't really decided on my FTL mechanics yet. I definitely will go with a Hyperspace of sorts, and obviously non-free movement. FTL drives can also be used for intra-system "microjumps", and a tentative speed would be 0.5 - 1.5 ly/day. The later depends a LOT on how windy the routes will end up, of course.

04-27-2011, 07:08 PM
More stars, I stopped when I hit the 300 mark.


Hungry Donner
04-28-2011, 02:22 PM
Ah ha! This is where the high definition images are so I can actually read them!

It's fascinating to see how a difference in perception results in very different maps. In my setting Eta Cassiopeiae and Earth are considered close neighbors, in yours you can't even get thar from here :) This does bring in the sharp forcus the fact that I need to nail down the specifics of travel however.

It's a shame these pictures aren't searchable. I suppose a PDF (or maybe an SVG?) would allow that but I'm guessing they wouldn't be easy to set up.

04-28-2011, 03:50 PM
Sure, I can do PDFs:




Hungry Donner
04-28-2011, 03:58 PM
Very cool, thanks!

I guess that was easier than I expected :)

04-28-2011, 05:29 PM
Yeah, the program I use for the "flowchart" can export to pdf directly and for all other program,s well, there's pdfcreator.

04-29-2011, 01:52 AM
Managed to connect one of the minor "clusters", you'll see that the arm in the upper left of the chart has expanded a lot:


The "normal" map is getting more and more confusing, this is still with only 1/8th of the stars so I wonder how big this map's actual utility will be in the long run...


Hungry Donner
04-29-2011, 09:57 PM
It should get interesting as you expand as the number of known red dwarfs and brown dwarfs will decrease rapidly. Obviously at these distances you're free to make them yourself wherever you want but then the number of stars will increase even further.What is your ultimate scope in term of distances?

04-30-2011, 01:41 AM
The list I have is about ~75 light years, or about 2600 stars. I now have about 400 of those on my map, currently working through those at about 35 light years. Beyond 75 light years I will just start making up stars; mapping real world stars is becoming fairly tedious already.

04-30-2011, 09:43 AM
What dataset are you using? And does a machine readable version exist?

05-01-2011, 06:17 PM
I'm using this one: http://uranometria.blogspot.com/p/near-star-catalogue.html

Was the most convenient I found. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not the most accurate but it works I guess.

05-02-2011, 02:53 AM
It is a nice set of data (and machine readable too). You translated the polar coordinates to Cartesian coordinates and then calculated relative distances, right? I hope you automated at least that...

05-02-2011, 04:16 AM
I wrote a quick AWK script for the conversion of the coordinates, and for reformatting the list - I don't need a bunch of different catalogue IDs for example.
I then imported the result into openOffice, sorted it by distance from Sol in ascending order, and am working my way down the list manually. For a bunch of stars the spectral class is missing in this list, and sometimes it is not easy to find them. (SINBAD is awesome though I didn't know it when I started this map!) I am also adding popular names for stars as I notice them, I will probably revisit this when I work out the exploration of space and have to give names to stars and colonies anyway.

After placing a new star, I "manually" (OpenOfifce does the calculation but I have to copy and paste the coordinates into a 2nd worksheet) check the distance to stars that are likely to fall within 7.7 light years. I am pretty good at that, but sometimes I overlook a star that should be connected.

I did a bunch more stars yesterday but I still didn't connect the two big clusters. There are some nice, long routes on the fringes of the cluster that the Earth is connected to, though, and I am almost hoping that I will NOT be able to connect Earth beyond the 25 parsec sphere I am working on since this will give me a nice sandbox with defined borders. And I can always fudge access to the rest of the galaxy - a jumpgate built by The Ancients(tm) that defies the known rules of FTL travel and sends ships to a destination 100s of light years away - Into a region of space so uncharted by our primitive 21st Century technology that I can just randomize it.

05-03-2011, 01:52 AM
Not much to say - there's more stars in there. I connected a few of the smaller clusters, but the big one that is irking me is still unconnected.



05-03-2011, 09:41 AM
I think I have good news for you. I have written a c++ program to harvest that data and it found a 52-jump connection from Altair to Sol. If you are interested I will send you the source code.

Mu Herculis and Gliese 3959 are only 4.65 ly apart, add that connection and travel to Altair. And my program needs a slight adaption for routing, traveling EVERY star in a multi system is not efficient...

05-03-2011, 03:37 PM
Thanks but - Are you sure?

If my conversions are right - and, boy, they better be or I wasted a LOT of time on this, then:

Mu Herculis is at x,y,z = 15,0527 19,5839 11,8455
Gliese 3959 is at x,y,z = 6,49408 13,7845 14,313

Distance = 10.62880863

As for the source, sure, why not. I have some Linux systems I could run it on.

05-03-2011, 04:11 PM
I found a 7.44ly link between Vega and HIP 83945A/B though!

Interestingly it puts Earth more or less in the middle of two "arms":


Hungry Donner
05-04-2011, 03:30 PM
I've been using this site (http://www.neoprogrammics.com/distance_between_two_stars/index.php) to calculate the distance between stars so I figured I'd check the distance between Mu Herculis and Gliese 3959 myself. Unfortunately while SIMBAD had coordinates for both the NASA Star and Exoplanet Database only has a distance for Mu Herculis. :(

If you want to try it yourself to see which result it agrees with (or is closer to, distances do have so wiggle room) you can copy the coordinates straight out of SIMBAD and paste them in to that site, just make sure you check the +/- of the declination.

05-04-2011, 04:21 PM
the stellar database can do distances very conveniently. Their results do not always agree with mine but I put that down to normal margin of error. Anyway:


7.7 ly of Mu Herculis:

Bonner Durchmusterung +183421: 4.47559 light-years, class M0 V
Gliese & Jahreiss 1230: 6.4155 light-years, class M4.5 V

I also have Vega in addition to those two. My distances are: GJ1230=5.98, BDetc aka GJ686=4.49ly


Hungry Donner
05-04-2011, 05:43 PM
Ah ha, I've solved your Mu Herculis problem, that designation "Mu Herculis" is apparently used for two different stars :)

Through that in to SIMBAD and you'll get a star at Right Ascension 16 36 58.815, Declination +42 44 50.10. However Stellar Database, NStED, and Wikipedia are referred to a star at Right Ascension 17 46 27.5, Declination +27 43 14.44. :)

(If you put 86 Herculis in to SIMBAD the data will line up with these other searches)

05-04-2011, 08:09 PM
Hmmm. When I enter Mu Herculis into SIMBAD then I get the same star as on Wikipedia et al. With the coordinates you posted I get V* Mu Her. Alright, nice find. I do not have to understand how astronomy can be such a crappy inaccurate science. *shakes fists at the stars* Give us FTL already!

Hungry Donner
05-04-2011, 11:01 PM
When I refer to stars I generally use the classic Greek letter/constellation combinations if they have them (and then a Gliese # or HIP # if they don't). It was surprising to see some confusion come about here. At least this does confirm that the two stars are within 7.7 ly!

http://www.stellar-database.com looks like a great resource, hopefully I'll have a chance to compare it to my current work sometime this week.

05-05-2011, 12:48 AM
stellar-database.com is nice but is woefully incomplete. I am using it and SIMBAD together for the best results.

Hungry Donner
05-05-2011, 08:50 AM
I was using SIMBAD before but have recently moved to NStED (http://nsted.ipac.caltech.edu/starsearch.html), it tends to have the same technical information found in SIMBAD but often has a distance from the Sun and also gives estimates on habitability zones.

05-05-2011, 11:48 AM
Hmm dunno I prefer simbad, performance seems better too. Anyway, never hurts to have alternatives.

Does anybody have a generic star system generation system and tool btw? Something roughly like gurps space, but automatable? I found a spreadhseet based solution but it's crap. The various sites I found are all not usable for one reason or another, usually because they are based on some limited RPG's system. StarGen, the "scientific" generator, just generates systems with habitable planets, and seems fairly useless except as a distraction.

05-17-2011, 12:51 AM
I've been working on this whenever my time allows, unfortunately that's not too often. Still, I added a whole bunch of stars.

Actual star map:


(Sorry the PDF broke, so I am using the PNG now - no time this morning to figure out what went wrong while printing to pdf.)

"Relational" map:


No fundamental changes, really. Assuming 1 week per jump (it is almost always less) the travel time from Earth to the furthest systems on this map would be about half a year.

05-17-2011, 02:39 AM
I have to update and clean up my program and send you a new version. Some sneak peaks: The big cluster is connected to Sol: Groombrigde 1830, Alula Australis, Ross 104, Gamma Leo C, Gliese 1111. The Arcturus-cluster is also connected (actually via Groombridge 1830), the Wolf 1056 cluster not, neither is the cluster with Gliese 114.1. The Gamma Pavonis cluster is also not connected.

05-17-2011, 01:25 PM
Neat - good way to ensure I didn't miss anything essential. Thanks.

Do you think it would be easy to modify your program to check if the Sol cluster potentially continues "off map"? At this point I am sure it does, but still. I guess the condition would be if any of the stars in the cluster are within 7.7 ly of the max distance from sol of any star in the dataset, then it could hypothetical continue "off map", but if all stars are further away from that edge than 7.7 ly then we know it is a limited cluster...

This would imply you can detect entire clusters instead of just routes tho.

05-17-2011, 01:26 PM
Or actually:

Find all stars within 7.7ly of the "edge" - check if they have paths to Sol - problem solved. Right?

05-18-2011, 12:35 AM
Yup, had forgotten the link AD Leonis <-> Alula Australis on my relational map. Looks much nicer now.

05-29-2011, 12:55 PM
Thanks to cfds and his coding magic, I now know I left out Gliese 519 and ruined a great connection that way - as he said the Arcturus / Eta Bootis cluster is indeed connected to the rest of Sol space.

I also added a bunch more stars; now we're up to 817 stars in about 540 systems.


05-29-2011, 04:51 PM
And just for kicks, a very quick style test...


Hungry Donner
05-29-2011, 05:30 PM
And just for kicks, a very quick style test...
I like that quite a lot. I think it might help to have the connecting lines in a few shades so the over/under stands out a bit more.

I also love the updated network, now that most of them are connected together it's quite impressive.

05-29-2011, 10:06 PM
Thanks - I will be using the "systematic" or "relational" map (whatever you want to call it) rather the one with genuine positions of stars, so hopefully there won't be too many overlapping connections.

How about this?


Besides the change in font, I made the connections blue and semi-transparent, so at intersections it's a bit clearer what line goes where. I also think the blue doesn't blend in with the other colors as much as the gray did.

05-30-2011, 01:34 AM
More stars, more glow.


05-31-2011, 12:30 PM
Lookin' good.

06-02-2011, 08:00 PM
Style Test v4 - Added a starfield, "sector" names, a connection that was missing (Sol -> Alpha Centauri) and a trinary star system.


06-03-2011, 12:42 AM
Two alternate versions, different styles for the lines. What do you guys think?


06-06-2011, 10:49 AM
I think the blue lines are easier to read, or distract less than the red lines, though I think that they might be better if they were a little thinner. The background is nice, but it seems a little blurry to me, maybe increase the sharpness on the stars a little. Otherwise the map looks excellent.

06-07-2011, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the feedback - Yeah, the BG needs to be redone. Was my first attempt... ;)

As for the lines...


Like so?

09-01-2011, 01:22 PM
I'd try a darker shade of red/burgundy as alternative to blue. And I'd use a different color for the cluster names. Also, I'd probably do the tertiary as a triangle, not a line, or try to overlap them more, though that's probably only really nice when the stars have different colors.

09-02-2011, 09:32 AM
Thanks for the feedback. Overlapping stars more looks really bad, even if they are of different colors; it just makes things too messy. I think I didn't try a triangle arrangement, I guess that could work. I'll have to try it. Yeah "sector" or "region" names probably need a different color. I tried a few, liked none.