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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Worst. Vacation Spots. Ever.

By Phil Plait

These posters are extremely cool. But there’s no way I’d visit any of these planets.

That poster and two others for the exoplanets Kepler-186f and HD 40307g were created by artist David Delgado and NASA visual strategists Dan Goods and Joby Harris. I love the retro feel to them!

I’ll note that Kepler-16b does orbit a binary star, but the planet is roughly Saturn-sized, so it most likely doesn’t even have a surface to stand on. If it has a big moon, though, that might be a nice place to visit.

HD 40307g is a super-Earth, with a mass eight times our planet’s, so apropos to its poster it most likely will have a higher surface gravity (though its actual size and therefore gravity is not known). Kepler-186f is just a hair bigger than Earth, but again we don’t know its mass. It might have an atmosphere like Venus (sucky to visit) or Mars (breathing-optional vacations tend to be downers).

Perhaps that’s what inspired artist Olly Moss to make a poster for Kepler-61b. He got it about right; that planet has twice the diameter of Earth and is on the inside edge of its star’s habitable zone; it could be a super-Venus, which would make for a short and unpleasant trip.

Mind you, all of these planets are many light-years away, too, so factor that into your plans.

I kinda like Earth. I can work here and vacation here. And it doesn’t take 40,000 years to get here, either, which saves on airfare.

Thanks to my bemohawked friend Bobak Ferdowsi for helping me track the artists down.

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