Monday, June 1, 2015

To the crossroads, once more...

I returned three days ago from a two-months trip to the NGC 7822 Stellar Nursery area, mapping out YSOs, Black Holes and Neutron Stars. It took me two days of trading in a cramped T-7 to realize (again) that I don't belong here. Busy trade lanes full of traffic, comms chatter, wannabe pirates and the omnipresent systems' police. I got wanderlust... again. I sold my Beryllium (for the gazillionth time), gave the traffic warden some bucks for a mug of coffee and told him to mothball my Space Mule and went to the Stellar Cartographics Bulletin Board. It didn't take long to find a secondary entry, on behalf of a privately funded operation, asking for aid in mapping out the edges of some of the Milky Ways' spiral arms. What followed was a short comms exchange with the operation's Commander, and then things were set: It would take a decent amount of time but should be worth the stretch. StellCart would buy the exploration data as usual but would leave all other mapping rights to the operation. A more perfect stage couldn't be asked for...

So I went out in my 32 LY Asp Explorer and headed towards the Musca Dark Region and the Coalsack Dark Nebula. I like to see the Coalsack as a crossroads of sorts, because from there you can basically go further coreward, towards the Pipe Dark Nebula and, further on, the Lagoon Nebula; or you might go in the galaxy's trailing direction, where eventually you will find the Eta Carina Nebula and get to the rim of the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way.

Both, Musca Dark Region and the Coalsack are ideal for novice Explorers as they basically lie at the doorstep of inhabited space and are easy to navigate and quite dense with stars. Musca is a place filled with many, many brown dwarfs (where you cannot scoop fuel) but also patches of main sequence stars with the occasional sub-giant or (super-)giant star. Ah yes, and quite a few of the very young O and B type stars, which are generally hunted for their Black Holes and Neutron Stars they might contain.

Approaching the Coalsack, the stretches of brown dwarfs get thinner and give way to the more 'regular' variety of stars. Star density is still more than enough to navigate here and quite a few stars have terrestial planets suitable for Terraforming or even boast an intact ecology already teeming with life. And then of course there is the Dark Nebula of the Coalsack itself. It's a dark and beautiful jewel, especially when viewed with the Milky Way as background. Make sure to shoot some pictures out here for a postcard for your loved ones at home!

All of this presents many opportunities for the up-and-coming Explorer to hone his navigational skills and get a grip on the different types of stars and stellar bodies (yes, there are quite a few of them): What's a TT-star and what's a T-star? What's an A1 III and what's a Y5 V? Where do I find habitable planets? Where do I find planets rich in minerals? After some time, you'll get the hang of it, I'm sure.

Time to move on...

No comments:

Post a Comment