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Spacing Out

Article posted on 2/9/2023

I spend a lot of time staring off into space.

To clarify, I don’t mean that literally - I don’t have a super-powered Webb Telescope, you know - but these pockets of deep thought are meant to lead to some creative thoughts and interesting answers to odd questions. 

While sometimes it’s a miss, in most cases I’m able to light on an idea and run with it. When I write fiction for fun, I tend to focus more on themes that fall within the high fantasy genre, but my tenure here at Stardock has helped to ebb me a bit more toward Science Fiction on some days.

An image taken by the Hubble Telescope of the Pillars of Creation in 2014

Space is kind of our “thing” here at Stardock, and as a result I’ve grown rather fond of it myself. My favorite game to explore in is Star Control: Origins - not only because of the quirky and delightful writing, but also because of the thrill of finding rare worlds and encountering new alien races.

Playing games where exploring a vast and mysterious galaxy are at the center of gameplay make me think about the kind of exploration we do in the real world. While I’m not keen to go into space myself - I rather enjoy staying on the ground, thanks - I appreciate that there have been so many advancements made in tech throughout the years that let me imagine having that experience in different ways.

Images provided by technology like the James Webb telescope only serve to spur the imagination as they make you wonder about what mysteries lurk in the corners of our solar system and beyond. Back in October, the telescope glimpsed the dark side of what we call the “Pillars of Creation,” which are located 6,500 light-years away in the Eagle Nebula.

A zoomed-in image of the Pillars of Creation, taken by the James Webb Telescope in 2022

The images are breathtaking, haunting, and awe-inspiring all at once. These iconic towers are comprised of interstellar dust and gas and glimmer with young stars. They’re absolutely massive at about 5 light-years in length (for context, a light-year is about 6 trillion miles). 

Catching the pillars in mid-infrared light showcases a twisted snarl of ghostly figures leaping across the cosmos out of the gray and velvet-like dust. Although most of the stars are hidden by the dust, some of them shine through the darkness thanks to the infrared light (which is invisible to the human eye normally).

The Webb telescope’s ability to capture images in infrared light means paving the way for a whole new understanding of the pillars and the rest of the incredible phenomenon we observe through our universe. It’s really rather incredible; I find myself staring at these images in awe and am always excited to see what new ones the Webb telescope captures.

What about space exploration fascinates you? What is one of your favorite space exploration games? I’d love to hear about it!