The stars are majestic laboratories, gigantic crucibles, such as no chemist could dream.

HENRI POINCARE (1854-1912)


Anna Dirkse

Nearest Star

The closest star to our Sun is Proxima Centauri in the constellation Centaurus, which is 4.22 light years away. It is a red dwarf, primarily visible from the southern hemisphere and so faint that it is invisible to the naked eye and was only discovered in 1915. Red Dwarves are believed to be the commonest star type in the universe although they're quite difficult to find because they're small, relatively cool, and dim.
The current standard spaceship (the Space Shuttle) would take 160,000 years to get there, the fastest man-made spacecraft in existence (Helios II) would take 18,000 years, and even the fastest thing we have on the drawing board (the VASIMR propulsion system) would take 4,200 years.

It is estimated that there are about   300,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000 stars in the Universe.

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

The average separation between stars is about 100,000 times greater than the distance between Earth and the Sun.

Earth’s Constellation

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) divides the sky into 88 official constellations with precise boundaries, so that every direction belongs to exactly one constellation. In the northern celestial hemisphere, these are mostly based upon the constellations of the ancient Greek tradition.
Placing Earth in a constellation depends on where you're looking from. If you were on Alpha Centauri our Sun would appear to be in Cassiopeia. In mythology, Cassiopeia was a queen whose country was inundated by Poseidon as a punishment after she boasted of her beauty. The remedy was to sacrifice her daughter Andromeda to a sea monster. Luckily Andromeda was saved by Perseus (and Medusa's head) in the nick of time. The constellation is supposed to depict Cassiopeia in a seat and is sometimes referred to as the ‘Seated Queen’.
According to Greek mythology the constellation Centaurus is Chiron, a wise centaur who was tutor to Jason and Heracles. Generally, though, the character of centaurs was that of wild, lawless and inhospitable beings, the slaves of their animal passions.

Scorpions navigate by starlight.

SIR JAMES JEANS (1877-1946)

Six specks of dust inside Waterloo Station represent – or rather over-represent – the extent to which space is crowded with stars.


The stars as they sparkle in the firmament fill us with delight and ecstasy, and yet they all move in orbit marked out with mathematical precision.