Nov 21, 2008 - 0 Comments - Uncategorized -

Out Around Rigel

And so we swept on through space, with Rigel a great blue glory ahead, and new stars, invisible at greater distances, flaring up in front of us and then fading into the background as we passed. For a long time we had been able to see that Rigel, as inferred from spectroscopic evidence, was a double star—a fainter, greener blue companion revolving with it around their common center of gravity. Beyond Kappa Orionis, three hundred light-years from the sun, the space between the two was quite evident. Beyond four hundred light-years, the brilliance of the vast star was so great that it dimmed all the other stars by comparison, and made the nebula seem a mere faint gauze. And yet even with this gradual change, our arrival was a surprise.

[…]

At last I could see. Out the window opposite me, Rigel was a blue-white disk half the size of the sun, but brighter, with the companion star a sort of faint reflection five or ten degrees to the side. And still beyond, as I shaded my eyes, I could see swimming in the black a speck with the unmistakable glow of reflected light.

With both gravity projectors in readiness, we pulled out of our orbit and straight across toward the planet, letting the attraction of Rigel fight against our still tremendous speed. For a while, the pull of the big star was almost overpowering. Then we got past, and into the gravitational field of the planet. We spiralled down around it, looking for a landing place and trying to match our speed with its rotational velocity.

(Text from Out Around Rigel by Robert H. Wilson in Astounding Stories, Jan. 1931.  Actually, I got it off Project Gutenberg, but the names of the old pulp sci-fi magazines add a classy touch.  Image is a fractal, probably from Sterlingware and flipped around with a filter that I no longer know the name of and a few coloring ones too.  It does have a passing resemblance to a fried egg.)