One of the most exciting scientific developments of recent years has been the ever-ballooning number of exoplanets we have discovered, many with tantalizing details that make it easy to forget how very far away they are. I know there’s little to no chance that I’ll ever get to see even footage sent back from one, but simply confirming that they’re out there has taken a little slice of the science fiction I grew up on and made it real. The fact that there are so many, and that they are so different, helps me believe that our species will someday visit some of them, even if that only occurs long, long after I’m gone. (Assuming I’m not an immortal post-human disembodied mind adrift in the infocloud. Which I would be pretty okay with, actually.) Still, in the meantime I can appreciate those distant worlds via the works of people with artistic talent to spare.
This journey, made possible by a blend of facts and artistic imagination, may not be as exciting as the one you’d get aboard the Enterprise, TARDIS, or Millennium Falcon, but it’s also available from the comfort of your desk chair, and doesn’t require advanced engineering skills or one of Douglas Adams’ Electronic Thumbs. (If I owned one of those, I would have been out of here ages ago.) Check out some of the gorgeous worlds that fill our galaxy, with links to information about them included.