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How Will the Constellations Change In 50K Years?

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  • That's pretty cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:31AM (#33768824)

    In 50,000 years, humans will probably not even be on Earth anymore. Either we will have annihilated ourselves, or we will have migrated to other worlds. In 6,000 years we have gone from the dawn of history to a worldwide information network and space travel. In 9 times that time, we should be much further along!

    What would those constellations look like from our new homes near other star systems?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      I'm dissapointed, the anology with 6k years looks not bad enough for a lot of people to agree (well, we all want to think that way...)

      Though OTOH "since the daughter of my buddy has made tremendous progress in language during the first few short years of her life, in a few decaddes she should be able to communicate in any semi-popular language" (for example) is a bit too obvious giveaway.

      • by mangu (126918)

        Though OTOH "since the daughter of my buddy has made tremendous progress in language during the first few short years of her life, in a few decaddes she should be able to communicate in any semi-popular language" (for example) is a bit too obvious giveaway.

        Try this: since my daughter has made tremendous progress in learning during the first few short years of her life, in a few decades she should be able to work in a profession.

        Perhaps she will become a linguist, so she will be able to communicate in many l

        • by sznupi (719324)

          But that wasn't the premise, it was about "we probably won't even be here anymore" - and while, sure, the progress is nice...some fundamental things stay strangely similar (which might not be the case anymore quite soon, sure; or we might be nearing some another long-lasting equlibrium state, similar to the one of our civilisation from 50k years ago; whatever). We should spread to few other areas, among them possibly Oort cloud - which should also present some people with opportunities of hitching a ride on

          • by jesset77 (759149)

            But that wasn't the premise, it was about "we probably won't even be here anymore"

            OP might have meant "we probably won't even be here exclusively anymore". The sentiment that a 2 dimensional constellation of three dimensional stars is colloquial to a fixed star system is not heavily influenced by whether or not we continue to inhabit the original system.

            For example, we have a complicated rock formation on the horizon from the house where I grew up called Smith Rocks. From the angle of my house, the entire formation looks like a rhino. It was quite nice as a kid to have this Rhino chillin

            • by sznupi (719324)

              Well, otoh one of two scenarios leading to what he meant was "we will wipe ourselves out" (and my overall point about how extrapolating progress like that has...issues)

              And generally - do people even care about constellations all that much? (they sure don't care about how almost all the stars basically dissapeared behind light pollution) How many people care about your rhino, or even "objective" monkey face for that matter? ;)

              • by jesset77 (759149)

                Well, otoh one of two scenarios leading to what he meant was "we will wipe ourselves out" (and my overall point about how extrapolating progress like that has...issues)

                Meh, plenty of people have worried about nuclear annihilation in the past. It is pretty well understood that a complete nuclear offensive would if not extinguish the human race, at least ravage the human population and set back civilization a century or more, not to mention ruining the continuity of what we see as history. We would probably arise from the ashes, but I don't think we would arise as the same people we were when we fell.

                Then there is asteroid impact. Yeah, asteroids don't have to be too big b

    • by sco08y (615665)

      In 50,000 years, humans will probably not even be on Earth anymore.

      At the very least I'd hope there aren't any more insipid horoscopes being published.

    • Don't worry, I'm sure humans will still be destroying the planet and its inhabitants for many years to come! Well, if they somehow manage to avoid killing themselves with their shortsightedness about future consequences and pointless, idiotic wars.

    • by Kvasio (127200)

      In 6,000 years we have gone from the dawn of history to a worldwide information network and space travel.

      you've just made Star Wars fans very upset. Space travel was far superior to what NASA does - and it was long, long ago

    • by Spatial (1235392)

      Analogies... The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Slashdot BAGerprise. Its five year mission: to explore strange new concepts, to seek out new interelationships and new inferences; to boldly go where no mind has gone before.

      [Klingons are car analogies]

    • by Dabido (802599)

      In 6,000 years we have gone from the dawn of history to a worldwide information network and space travel.

      10,000 years if we include Chinese written texts. (Not sure about Indian history, but I assume it might be about 10,000 years old too).

      In 9 times that time, we should be much further along!

      What would those constellations look like from our new homes near other star systems?

      Google Space/Streetview will tell us! :-)

  • by pthisis (27352) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:39AM (#33768842) Homepage Journal

    The conclusion is: not very much. The little dipper will become sort of triangular instead of rectangular. The Big Dipper and Orion will be mostly unchanged as far as anyone cares (Orion's shield will warp, but the belt--which is the only thing most people look at--will remain identical), and the only other changes discussed are to incredibly ancillary constellations like Hydra.

    OTOH, there's absolutely zero discussion of a few of the stars most people have heard of and care about or any of the widely recognizable constellations outside of the big/little dippers. Will Polaris still be the North Star, or will it be replaced? Cassiopeia's Chair has famously become more and more W shaped--what will it look like as time passes? Will the Southern Cross--the flag of Australia, New Zealand, and several other southern hemisphere countries--remain the same?

    Focusing on one small star in Taurus drifting slightly? Really?

    • by nebaz (453974)

      If nothing else, the earth wobbles on it's axis every 14,000 years (I think that is the number). Polaris certainly won't be due north then.

      • It goes once around in about 26000 years [wikipedia.org] so 13000 years would be be maximum displacement of Polaris from North, but its proper motion across the sky will move Polaris away by the time the pole returns anyway.

      • by pthisis (27352)

        Yep. The north star changes identity fairly frequently--that's part of why I put that in there.

        It just seems really odd for an article on this topic to omit discussions of many real changes in stars and constellations that people actually know about while dedicating time to a slight deformation of the Big Dipper (which at least is near the top of known constellations, but apparently isn't changing much) along with discourses on Hydra and one little star in Taurus drifting.

        • by Xiph (723935)

          what bothers me even more, is that the now picture for the little dipper, isn't even remotely near how it looks outside my window.
          also she writes it won't be a dipper, which is wrong, it's just that two of the stars change roles.

    • Will Polaris still be the North Star, or will it be replaced?

      Polaris will no longer be the North Star, but that will be more because of the precession of Earth's rotation axis than because of any movements on Polaris' part.

  • Stellarium (Score:5, Informative)

    by NeoMantas (1538061) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @03:52AM (#33768880)
    Just run Stellarium [stellarium.org] and set the date 50K ahead and you will have your answers.
    • by HybridST (894157)

      Just run Stellarium and set the date 50K ahead and you will have your answers.

      Brings back memories of exploring with Galileo [atarimagazines.com] Good times in my youthful pursuit of knowledge and geekery!

    • ... and Celestia (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And if someone wants to know what the constellations look like from 5k light years away today (or in 50k years), please run Celestia (http://www.shatters.net/celestia/)

      Bonus -- modpacks allow real time simulation of spacecraft from Star Wreck to Blake's 7 and from Red Dwarf via Battlestar Galactica to Star Wars.

      Everyone's chance to make the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs.

    • Great tip. Thanks!
      • You're welcome.

        Just don't go using your where-will-the-stars-be-long-after-I'm-dead predictor more than once a day ;)

    • by martinux (1742570)

      Sorry I don't have any karma to give to you.

      It's an amazing program which anyone with an interest in astronomy should have. You can also determine when amazing astronomic events will take place. For instance, if one looks up at the western sky from the UK on September 9th 2040, one might see this: http://bit.ly/bfEDKj [bit.ly]

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:18AM (#33768932)

    Not so much what the constellations looked like, when they were first dreamed up, but more what the fuck they were smoking?

    I can't draw stick figures (even XKCD), and yet I can easily tell that none of the constellations look like what they're supposed to.

    • Maybe part of the reason is that we hardly ever see the constellations with a perfectly dark sky, and with clean air. Even away from cities now the air will be somewhat more polluted, and satellites litter the sky, though these effects should be fairly minor.

      Another more subtle factor is that people today have a lot more to occupy their minds. The latest catastrophe in Pakistan; football results from across the world; 24 hour news, all that stuff which fills our heads with dubious information. Ancient peopl

      • Is this what happened to Rome and ancient Greece?

        First of all, you forgot to tell the kids to stay off your lawn.

        Second, all empires grow until the amount of loot they get from the conquered equals the treasure they have to spend to take it. At that point, there is a delicate balance and it just takes a bit of corruption or a few bad economic years to make things bad enough in the hinterlands to start a barbarian revolt - which raises the cost of maintenance which... a death spiral from which the empire u

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ladoga (931420)
          You could also say that the empire shifted it's capital to Konstantinopolis, which was a central trade hub and easily defendable. Meanwhile the city of Rome became increasingly irrelevant and was lost to germanic tribes in 410 and 472AD. It was captured back by the Roman Empire, which later in medieval times the Pope (previously one of bishops of orthodox christian church)and his western vassals began to call Byzantine or Greek empire due to propaganda reasons. Interestingly it was the Pope who ruled the ci
    • When Xerxes tells you to come up with a star map, you do it. If you're clever, you come up with one that's pleasing to him, but only you can read.
    • They had better stuff to smoke in recent centuries, when a lot of the southern constellations were named.

      Does this look like a telescope to you? [wikipedia.org] Orion smokes constellations like that.
  • by martas (1439879) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:23AM (#33768958)
    It'll come in handy when we try to use the stargate...
  • Will people be born under the sign of *broken* snake, etc? ;-)
    • Since astrologers don't care about the fact that the sun isn't actually in the signs they claim it in, why should they care if those constellations aren't recognizable any more?

  • I just did my horoscope with that information and clearly I was born to early, because instead of the rather bland 'Something is on your mind. See that the matter is solved.' it was 'You are the Ruler of the Universe.'.

    • by TDyl (862130)
      How is she? I remember early being quite, um, "accomodating" all those years ago.
    • I just did my horoscope with that information and clearly I was born to early, because instead of the rather bland 'Something is on your mind. See that the matter is solved.' it was 'You are the Ruler of the Universe.'.

      You misunderstand: In those 50.000 years, also the meaning of language changed. At that time, "ruler" means something like "biggest fool" ...

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:58AM (#33769036)

    RS232 support should still be around even if humanity goes extinct.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      yes it will, but you better have packed in a time capsule

      1. a copy of windows with hyperterminal, or unixy OS with cu or tip
      2. your magic HP null modem cable that works on all routers, switches and system management boards,

      or you're going to be fucked

  • by Liquidrage (640463) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:01AM (#33769238)
    Considering the growth of light pollution, the easiest way to visualize what constellations will look like in 50k years is to picture a giant purple sky that's slightly pinkish at the horizons.
  • Betelguese (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @06:06AM (#33769252)

    A more interesting change to Orion would be Betelguese going supernova [wikipedia.org] (and that event becoming visible on Earth) in the next 50,000 years.

    Betelgeuse is already old for its size class and will explode relatively soon compared to its age. At the current distance of Betelgeuse from the Earth, such a supernova explosion would be the brightest recorded; outshining the Moon in the night sky and becoming easily visible in broad daylight.

  • I sure hope someone could tell me if these findings tell us if the stars will be right during the next 50k years... It would make me at ease knowing how much time we have left before the great old ones... unless, of course, they are coming soon. Even then, I'd like to have the information so I could make preparations (namely, leave this world.)
  • by zoom-ping (905112)
    From 3:10 [youtube.com]
  • "From The Earth" is rather prosaic when you compare it to 3 dimensions. Look at any constellation from the side. The distances are usually much greater than the apparent angular separation as seen from Earth. It makes it quite obvious that 'constellation' is as synonymous with 'illusion' as it is with anything else. But from the side you can see that some groupings hold, such as the majority of Taurus. Most of it is an open cluster, so of course things won't change much in 50K years, the members are moving

  • Hopefully before then they'll start using the constellation forms in H.A. Rey's The Stars [google.com]; I really don't understand why so many references still use the shapeless randomly-connect-the-dots versions. Is it a copyright issue, maybe?

  • The Big Dipper will become The Big Doper.

  • the constellations look just as little like what they represent in both times
  • I always thought that learning the constellations was a waste of time. Now I have proof.

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