Back to Math And Terraforming
We don't know how a terraformed planet will look like, but can figure out how would the sky look like. In many cases, like on the moons of Saturn, it will be a spectacle to see all the moons, terraformed or not, shining in the sky.
Basic Formula Edit
If you want to see the size in angles of an object, you must know the distance to it (D), object's diameter (d) and you get the angle (A):
A = 2arctan(d/2D).
This formula is very useful, but there is another one, more easy to compare to objects around us:
Derived Formula Edit
I made a second formula, because using degrees might be tricky and I wanted to compare angular sizes with something everybody has in its room. It is also adapted for Microsoft Excel. Here, the target is an object we want to know how large will look like and observer is the object from where you look. The table will give you two results. First is the maximum size (when target and observer are the closest) and second the minimum size (when target and observer are at opposition).
- Column A: object name
- Column B: object's diameter (type values in thousand km)
- Column C: object's distance (semimajor axis) in million km
- Column D: observer's semimajor axis (in million km)
- Column E: determine minimum distance: =ABS(C2-D2)
- Column F: determine maximum distance: =C2+D2
- Column G: determine maximum size (seen from minimum distance): =B2/E2
- Column H: determine minimum size (from maximum distance): =B48/F48
- To see the apparent size of an object, do as follows: Suppose you got a result of 9.3. Draw a circle of 9.3 mm diameter on a sheet of paper and look at that circle from a distance of one meter. The more details you can see on the circle, the more things you could see on the targeted object.
- The smallest size from where someone could see the object as a small disk, is 0.315. If values are smaller, then you won't be able to see the object as a disk, but as a star. Many people can argue that even below 0.7, you can no longer see an object as a disk.
- This calculation method is used for objects orbiting the same celestial body (for example, a system of moons). If you want to see how would you see the planet from a moon, type target's distance zero and observer's distance, moon's semimajor axis. Again, if you want to see how would a moon look like from a planet, type at observer's distance zero and at target's distance the moon's semimajor axis. In this case, you will get two identical values.
- When trying to work with objects that have an elliptical orbit, try to use two different measurements: one with apastron/aphelion data (smallest distance) and one with periastron/perihelion data (biggest distance).
- If you get a value of less then 0.315, you will see a star and not a disk (or moon). In this case, use the formulas on Magnitude for more data.
- If the target is very close, like the Earth seen from a low-orbit satellite, results are not accurate. By sitting on a planet's surface, you will get a value of 2000. For values less then 500, this formula still remains close to reality.
Example in the Solar System Edit
Remember, the units shown here are easy to compare with something around. If an object is visible as a disk of 12.5 units, draw a circle with a diameter of 12.5 mm and look at it from 1 m.
The Sun Edit
The Sun will be seen as a disk from majority of the planets, moons and asteroids, as shown below:
From Mercury: 24.03 units From Venus: 12.87 units From Earth: 9.32 units From Mars: 6.11 units From Ceres: 3.36 units From Jupiter: 1.79 units From Saturn: 0.97 units From Uranus: 0.48 units From Neptune: 0.31 units
Note: Starting from Neptune, the Sun will no longer be visible as a disk, but as a star. Also, from no planet, you will see another planet as a disk, even if, at conjunction, Earth from Venus, Venus from Earth, Venus from Mercury and Jupiter from Ceres will be close to the point where you would see them as a tiny disk.
Moons of inner planets Edit
From Earth, you will see the Moon as 9.05 units. From the Moon, the Earth will appear of 33.22 units.
From Mars, you will see its moons as follows:
Phobos from Mars: 2.35 units Deimos from Mars: 0.55 units Mars from Phobos: 308 units Deimos from Phobos: 0.55 units (with a small variation) Mars from Deimos: 289 units Phobos from Deimos: 0.94 units
Once terraformed, the planets will no longer look as we know them. They will become blue-white. An interesting fact is that the Moon is separated from Earth by a large enough distance so that you will see both the Earth and Moon. At one AU, at highest separation, the Earth and Moon will be at 2.57 units, so it will be possible to see both.
Jupiter system Edit
At Jupiter, things will be far more interesting:
From Jupiter (suppose you float on top of its atmosphere), you will see the moons as follows:
Almathea - 1.10 units Io - 8.61 units Europa - 4.65 units Ganymede - 4.92 units Calisto - 4.82 units
Jupiter - 768 units Io - 6.01 to 15.14 units Europa - 3.66 to 6.34 units Ganymede - 4.20 to 5.93 units Calisto - 2.33 to 2.83 units
Jupiter - 332 units Almathea - 0.33 to 0.83 units Europa - 2.86 to 12.52 units Ganymede - 3.26 to 8.12 units Calisto - 2.09 to 3.30 units
Jupiter - 208 units Almathea - 0.5 units Io - 3.32 to 14.56 units Ganymede - 3.02 to 13.19 units Calisto - 1.99 to 4.00 units
Jupiter - 130.7 units Io - 2.43 to 5.60 units Europa - 1.79 to 7.82 units Calisto - 1.63 to 5.93 units
Jupiter - 74.25 units Io - 1.58 to 2.48 units Europa - 1.22 to 2.58 units Ganymede - 1.78 to 6.47 units
All outer moons will not be visible or at best will be seen as stars. Almathea is visible as a disk as far as Europa. All the other small inner moons might be visible as disks from Io. From the outer moons, Jupiter and the Galilean moons are visible. From Himalia, the largest outer moon, you will see something like this:
Jupiter - 12.21 units Io - 0.31 units Europa - bright star Ganymede - 0.45 units Calisto - 0.40 units.
As we can see, in Jupiter system, even from the most distant moons, the planet is visible a bit larger then the Moon from Earth and all 4 large moons are visible as bright stars or small disks.
If we think that the four large moons will be terraformed, the view will be more interesting. You could see clouds, oceans and continents somehow similar to how we see 'seas' now on the Moon.
Saturn system Edit
At Saturn, things will be even more interesting.
From Saturn, we will see the moons as follows:
Mimas - 2.14 units Enceladus - 2.12 units Tethys - 3.6 units Dione - 2.98 units Rhea - 2.90 units Titan - 4.21 units Iapetus - 0.41 units
From Mimas, we will see:
Saturn - 630 units Enceladus - 1.19 to 9.51 units Tethys - 2.21 to 9.65 units Dione - 2.00 to 5.84 units Rhea - 2.14 to 4.46 units Titan - 3.67 to 4.97 units Iapetus - 0.42 units
From Enceladus, we could see:
Saturn - 489 units Mimas - 0.93 to 7.48 units Tethys - 1.99 to 18.63 units Dione - 1.49 to 8.08 units Rhea - 1.99 to 5.28 units Titan - 3.53 to 5.23 units Iapetus - 0.38 to 0.44 units
From Tethys, the sky will look like this:
Saturn - 395 units Mimas - 0.82 to 3.63 units Enceladus - 0.95 to 8.85 units Dione - 1.67 to 13.70 units Rhea - 1.86 to 6.58 units Titan - 3.39 to 5.55 units Iapetus - 0.38 to 0.45 units
From Dione, this is what you will see:
Saturn - 309 units Mimas - 0.71 to 2.06 units Enceladus - 0.82 to 3.63 units Tethys - 1.58 to 12.95 units Rhea - 1.69 to 10.18 units Titan - 3.22 to 6.09 units Iapetus - 0.37 to 0.46 units
Saturn - 221 units Mimas - 0.56 to 1.16 units Enceladus - 0.66 to 1.74 units Tethys - 1.29 to 4.58 units Dione - 1.24 to 7.49 units Titan - 2.94 to 7.41 units Iapetus - 0.36 to 0.48 units
From Titan (the best candidate for terraforming):
Saturn - 95.3 units Mimas - star to 0.38 units Enceladus - 0.34 to 0.51 units Tethys - 0.70 to 1.15 units Dione - 0.70 to 1.33 units Rhea - 0.87 to 2.20 units Hyperion - star to 1.04 units Iapetus - 0.31 to 0.36 units
Saturn - 32.71 units Tethys - star to 0.33 units Dione - star to 0.35 units Rhea - 0.37 to 0.53 units Titan - 1.07 to 2.20 units
Saturn - 9.05 units Titan - 0.37 to 0.44 units
What is to be noticed is that in Saturnian System, moons are seen much smaller then in the Jovian System. Not all of them are suitable for terraforming, so their appearance will remain almost the same. Phoebe is visible from the entire system as a star, while all moons except Titan are visible as stars from Phoebe. The rings rotate in the same plane with the inner moons, so they will not be clearly visible from nearby.
Uranus System Edit
The simulation is based on Uranus and its 5 large moons:
From Uranus, you would see:
Miranda - 3.66 units Ariel - 7.07 units Umbriel - 5.17 units Titania - 3.61 units Oberon - 2.61 units
From Miranda, we could see:
Uranus - 393 units Ariel - 4.23 to 21.82 units Umbriel - 3.29 to 12.05 units Titania - 2.79 to 5.13 units Oberon - 2.14 to 3.35 units
From Ariel, we would see:
Uranus - 266 units Miranda - 1.48 to 7.21 units Umbriel - 2.80 to 33.40 units Titania - 2.15 to 6.43 units Oberon - 1.97 to 3.88 units
From Umbriel, the sky would look like this:
Uranus - 225 units Miranda - 1.34 to 4.36 units Ariel - 3.24 to 38.66 units Titania - 2.38 to 7.50 units Oberon - 1.88 to 4.26 units
From Titania, it will be like this:
Uranus - 116 units Miranda - 0.84 to 1.54 units Ariel - 2.16 to 5.52 units Umbriel - 1.77 to 5.57 units Oberon - 1.49 to 10.35 units
From Oberon, these are the estimates:
Uranus - 87 units Miranda - 0.66 to 1.04 units Ariel - 1.75 to 3.45 units Umbriel - 1.44 to 3.27 units Titania - 1.55 to 10.72 units.
What is interesting in the Uranian System is that the moons sometimes come very close one to each other. So, at opposition, sometimes you can barely see them as disks, while at conjunction you can see them sometimes larger then Earth's Moon.
Neptune System Edit
I only included the most known moons of Neptune: Proteus, Triton and Nereid.
Proteus - 3.56 units Triton - 7.62 units Nereid - pale star to bright star
Neptune - 417 units Triton - 5.72 to 11.41 units Nereid - pale star to bright star
Neptune - 139 units Proteus - 1.77 units Nereid - pale star to 0.33 units
Neptune - 5.10 to 35.89 units Proteus - pale star to 0.33 units Triton - star to 2.66 units.
The Neptunian System is interesting because we have retrograde and highly elliptic bodies. If one day Triton will be terraformed, on its surface, you will see a sunrise in West and a sunset in East, while on Nereid, Neptune will be sometimes larger and sometimes smaller.