Exploring the solar system and more (Space Engine screens/AARs)

Oye, beltalowda!
And hello to you inyalowda from Earth, Luna, and Mars!

Y’all want to see some objects of our solar system, otherwise you would have clicked on some other thread mi pensa.
So let’s see what we can make happen here!

(In case you wondered about the weird words above, that is “Belter Creole”, a dialect from the TV show / books “The Expanse” which everyone should check out. Really great Sci-Fi. )

All screenshots in this thread will be taken in Space Engine, with mods possibly.

I installed Space Engine a few days ago and I am blown away how cool it is.

I will also write a few words, maybe also a few links, about the objects we can see on the screenshots, and I would like to invite y’all to do the same!
Visit interesting places in the universe, take screenshots, and write a few words about them.
They don’t have to be real places, some stuff in Space Engine is procedurally generated, but if you post something I’d love to know where it is so I can go there myself and take a look at it.
Go visit places from your favourite (or any other) Science Fiction book, TV series, game or whatnot, I don’t care as long as it is in Space Engine and looks cool. :smiley:

I made two posts over in the other Space Engine thread, about Oumuamua and Metis:

Anyway, here we go!
I’ll start with Ceres, which is the home of a lot of Belters in The Expanse, and the biggest object of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Speaking of Jupiter, the bright dot in the middle of the milky way there, that’s Jupiter. Right now Ceres is as close to Jupiter as it gets, around 3 astronomical units.

The surface is… a bit boring actually unless you really love craters.

…except the few VERY bright spots it has, we still don’t really know what those are.


Hmmmm I can’t really decide between taking shots with HDR on, or the regular mode.
Both are very pretty, they just show different things.

Fun fact: there are people on reddit and similar places, posting real photos and screenshots from Space Engine next to each other, comparing them. Very impressive!


Ok, leaving the Solar system for a bit.

I’ve encountered some really cool locations I want to share with you.
If you want to visit them yourself, just press F3 in Space engine and then write exactly what I post. Then Press the “go to” button.
You will often need to have procedural galaxies, stars and planets turned on though.

This is the Sham system, specifically “Sham 6”.

Sham is a real star, also called Alpha Sagittae. It is 382 light years from here.
Space Engine created a nice procedural planet system around it.

Sham 6 is particularly interesting since it has an atmosphere. A lot of moons, too!

The innermost planets of this system are very close to their star, they are VERY hot.
They even leave trails like comets:

A few hours later near the volcano.


And here is another planetary system that is pretty interesting.
It orbits a star far away, in the Andromeda galaxy.

It has the beautiful name “RS 1235-918-1-6-118 4”
Its moon is pretty big, in fact the barycentre is not inside the planet, like with Pluto-Charon.
The IAU doesn’t call it a binary planet. But for me that’s the definition.

If you look closely you notice that it has a ring system, too!

Sadly not habitable. That would be cool.


Stars are essentially big fiery clouds of gas, mostly hydrogen.
They are so heavy, the gravitation in their centre makes the hydrogen atoms fuze together to a helium atom.
That nuclear fusion creates a so called “crapton” of energy. (no, that’s not a scientific term).
That’s why they are hot and bright.

Normally you would assume that such an object is shaped like a ball.
That’s a pretty natural assumption, since enough gravity even makes rocks shape spheres. That’s why planets are round after all.

…but “HIP 117054”, also called R Aquarii, seems to disagree!

Actually I had hoped for a bit more than that in Space Engine, but even as it is it is quite impressive.
What you see there is a symbiotic star. Basically a red giant and a white star are so close to each other that there is a mass transfer. Not visible here, sadly.

Okay, one more for today.

I am back in the solar system, making use of those high resolution textures that take up 30GB of my precious notebook hard drive.

Here is the highest mountain on a planet of the solar system:

Olympus Mons on Mars is a huge volcano, around 600km in diameter (it would just fit into France) and 26km high. That’s roughly three times the size of Mount Everest.
It is so high, it sticks out of Mars’ atmosphere.

In the background you can see Venus, Earth, the Moon, and Saturn. The bright, big thing is the Sun :wink:

Waiting for the sun to rise over the massive slopes on the west side.

What’s pretty funny:
Because of the way it is shaped, when standing right on it you would probably not call it very impressive.
when standing on Mars the horizon is only 3.4km away, so you would not be able to really grasp what you are seeing. You would notice the slope (barely though, most of it isn’t really steep, and there is only 0.3G of gravity there) but it would look quite flat.
Unless you are in the middle of it, of course, standing near the huge caldera. It is 90km wide and 3km deep.


Excellent thread! Will post my explorations when I have time here as well.

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Awesome stuff. Back in 2005 when I was just getting serious about Astro-imaging, I took some images of Mars when it was close to opposition. Crude by today’s standards, but I was pleased with them!

image image


Speaking of mountains…

Here is the tallest one on the Moon, Mons Huygens, as seen from just across the Huxley crater (which has a diameter of 4km by the way)

And here is the Earth as well as the plejades, seen from the same location a few hours later.

Also very impressive when watching the Earth from the Moon is its motion. You can really tell it is sometimes closer and sometimes further away, and it looks like it is moving a bit between the stars.
That’s called libration (the wikipedia article refers to the Moon but of course that works the other way, too):


And I just discovered my first planet with life in another star system!

It orbits the real star called HIP 114705, which belongs to the constellation we call aquarius, 360 light years from here:

Apparently it has eight planets, of which the fourth one is a cool Neptun with life in its atmosphere.
But it isn’t only interesting because of that, it is part of a double planet system, with a twin brother just about a light second away.

The rest of the system is pretty nice, too. There is a frigid superjupiter and a Venus type first planet with a very close moon similar to Mercury. Both glow red because they are very close to their star.

I think I’ll explore that system a bit more in the future.
I hope the simulation doesn’t change its seed too often, so those procedurally created objects stay roughly the same.


Oh come on, Space Engine!

This was going to be the post about Phobos, but for some reason the picture of Mars as seen from Phobos is a lot prettier than the moon itself.
Well, another time then.
Here is Mars looking awesome:


Not my own making but a very nice presentation done by ObsidianAnt using Space Engine in many scenes. Thought this would be a nice addition to the thread.

Colliding Galaxies! Something which would, on the surface of it seem to be perhaps one of the most dramatic and impactful events since the Big Bang. However, the truth is perhaps much different, and somewhat less explosive. What we are looking at here is a group of galaxies around 450 million light years away from Earth. They reside in an area of space known as the Hercules Galaxy Cluster. The two galaxies here are actually colliding, with the third slowing moving it’s way inwards as well. This is a process which will literally take millions of years to complete - and whilst that is of course a significant time from a human point of view, it is a short about of time on a galactic scale. Collision between Milky Way and Andromeda Simulation https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/30955 Frank Summers (STScI), Gurtina Besla (Columbia University), and Roeland van der Marel (STScI) Blockquote


I Was reading an article regarding NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). In it they were talking about a new world being discovered. The new world was measured between the sizes of Mars and Earth and was orbiting a bright, cool, nearby star. The planet, called L 98-59b, marks the tiniest discovered by TESS to date.

So I went and took a look in Space Engine to see how it was modelled.

In the article, they mention that two other worlds orbit the same star as L 98-59b. They have the real world data as to the actual sizes of the three planets but further study with other telescopes will be needed to determine if they have atmospheres and, if so, which gases are present. According to the article, the L 98-59 worlds nearly double the number of small exoplanets—planets beyond our solar system discovered.

Here is a picture of L 98-59b as rendered in Space Engine.

In the article, they mention that two other worlds orbit the same star as L 98-59b. They have the real world data as to the actual sizes of the three planets but further study with other telescopes will be needed to determine if they have atmospheres and, if so, which gases are present. According to the article, the L 98-59 worlds nearly double the number of small exoplanets—planets beyond our solar system discovered.

Here are the rendered screenshots from Space Engine of L 98-59c and L 98-59d.

According to the article:

“L 98-59b is around 80% Earth’s size and about 10% smaller than the previous record holder discovered by TESS. Its host star, L 98-59, is an M dwarf about one-third the mass of the Sun and lies about 35 light-years away in the southern constellation Volans. While L 98-59b is a record for TESS, even smaller planets have been discovered in data collected by NASA’s Kepler satellite, including Kepler-37b, which is only 20% larger than the Moon.”

“The two other worlds in the system, L 98-59c and L 98-59d, are respectively around 1.4 and 1.6 times Earth’s size. All three were discovered by TESS using transits, periodic dips in the star’s brightness caused when each planet passes in front of it.”

All three planets circle an M-Dwarf Star. Second screenshot has labels so you can see which planet is which. This systems is important to these scientists because it will allow them to study with other telescopes how three planets so close to one another affect each other.

Screenshot of L 98-59b looking a the Star L 98-59.

Again, according to the article:

“M dwarfs like L 98-59 account for three-quarters of our Milky Way galaxy’s stellar population. But they are no larger than about half the Sun’s mass and are much cooler, with surface temperatures less than 70% of the Sun’s. Other examples include TRAPPIST-1, which hosts a system of seven Earth-size planets, and Proxima Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbor, which has one confirmed planet. Because these small, cool stars are so common, scientists want to learn more about the planetary systems that form around them.”

“None of the planets lie within the star’s “habitable zone,” the range of distances from the star where liquid water could exist on their surfaces. However, all of them occupy what scientists call the Venus zone, a range of stellar distances where a planet with an initial Earth-like atmosphere could experience a runaway greenhouse effect that transforms it into a Venus-like atmosphere. Based on its size, the third planet could be either a Venus-like rocky world or one more like Neptune, with a small, rocky core cocooned beneath a deep atmosphere.”

Decided to go planetside on L 98-59b. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to actually stand on an alien planet and look across the landscape? Into the sky? With Space Engine, we can imagine what it might look like within our own understanding of our universe.

Looking up into the sky, here we see L 98-59c shining bright.

What a sight! Such landscape to wonder at.

Standing on the dayside of L 98-59b, looking up at the Star L 98-59. Second screenshot standing just between daylight and night on L 98-59b looking as the Star L 98-59 rises over the horizon. Last screensot is looking up from the same spot at L 98-59d during the night-time.

Here is the article this post was referenced on.


On my way to Neptune’s small moon Thalassa. Funny shape.

Landed. It is kinda cool to have a planet filling half of the sky. At least visually.


Beautiful shots! I’m going to have to look a little closer at Space Engine.


Here are a few pics from Phobos. Again Mars is stealing the show:

And here is Deimos. Rather boring in comparison, the bright spot near Mars is Phobos btw.:

And I discovered another pretty nice procedurally generated planetary system, around the real star called “HIP 86173” which is 176 light years from our sun.

Its second planet (half as big as Earth, tidally locked) has an atmosphere (mostly CO2, but also N2 and O2, half the pressure of Earth and over 300°C hot, no water). It has some unicellular life though, and some really nice canyons, a few kilometers deep. Worth a visit!


It is a magnificient simulator.

Meanwhile I found another very cool system to explore.
It is a procedural one, called “8496-928-7-738363-178”, a binary star system with both components having a planetary system, and both have planets with life!


Holy crap!
B3 has a potentially breatheable atmosphere, liquid water, and multicellular life!


Some exploring earlier today. Just looking around in different systems.


That’s looking really nice.:sunglasses: