Zeroing in on Vulcan

Over at Discover magazine’s Science Not Fiction blog, there’s an article about the discovery by astronomers that one of our closest stellar neighbors, Epsilon Eridani (10.5 light years away) has a solar system somewhat like our own, with rocky inner planets, outer gas giants, and two asteroid belts.

This is good news, insofar as numerous science fiction stories have used the Epsilon Eridani system as a home for alien civilizations, or future human colonies. So it would seem sf can take some small amount of pride in getting this location right.

But….. just who in science fiction was right? This solar system has been used in several books and tv series. Most famously, it was the location of Vulcan in Star Trek. It was also the location of the planet the Babylon 5 station orbited. Epsion Eridani also has made appearances in the fiction of Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear, C.J. Cheryh, Gordon Dickson, Alastair Reynolds, David Weber, and others.

They can’t ALL be right, can they?

I know who I’m rooting for. When we finally zoom in with more powerful telescopes, or actually travel there, I’m really really hoping we find Vulcan. And I’m hoping some of their logic rubs off on my species. ;)

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2 responses to “Zeroing in on Vulcan

  1. Although Episilon Eridani has been used frequently in sci-fi stories, it is actually not the location of Star Trek’s Vulcan. Vulcan’s sun is 40 Eridani A, this according to Star Trek’s creator himself, Gene Roddenberry. In fact, Roddenberry actually co-signed a letter with three members of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, indicating that 40 Eridani A is Vulcan’s sun and not Epsilon Eridani (based on the information they possessed at the time about both systems.) There is only one book related to Star Trek (The Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology) that erroneously named Epsilon Eridani as Vulcan’s sun. The book has not only been deemed incorrect elsewhere, but in the television series “Star Trek: Enterprise”, 40 Eridani A was identified repeatedly as Vulcan’s sun. OK, there’s your Star Trek trivia for today!

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