Archive for September, 2015


Elite Dangerous: Past the halfway point

A small planet, rather close to its sun. A close binary companion not visible on the screenshot means that it's even hotter than it looks here.

A small planet, rather close to its sun. A close binary companion not visible on the screenshot means that it’s even hotter than it looks here.

It took a while, but i’ve now passed the halway point on my way towards the galactic core. While approaching that mark, i came across my first neutron star, an incredibly dense collection of matter whose screenshot would be unimpressive as it’d only show a small dot. These are serious navigational hazards in E:D, being capable of frying up your ship while being almost invisible. They’re worth a good few credits though. A few more jumps corewards, and i came across the closest planet i’ve seen so far to a star. A small charred planet with lava trails, orbiting close to one of two close binary stars.

A major landmark on my way then was the large procedurally generated nebula in the FROARKS sector. The clouds here have more of an orange hue than in the previous one, with some purple-blue tint at the edges. It made for some pretty views inside, particularly around purple-looking brown dwarfs. My random traversal of the nebula didn’t get me to discover anything exotic though, just an assortment of water worlds, lots of high metal content planets including terraforming candidates, and plenty of gas giants, a good few of them life-bearing (both water-based and ammonia-based lifeforms, which is quite common in the E:D galaxy).

The FROARKS procedural nebula.

The FROARKS procedural nebula.

While jumping away from the nebula and looking behind me, i passed my halfway point and decided to go for some speed for a while, only scanning high-value worlds for a while. I ended up making an exception a few thousands light-years later though, lucking out on a giant S Type star. It’s tiny compared to some other known giants, but it’s the biggest i’ve come across and it was yet undiscovered.

A giant S Type star, from 300 light seconds away.

A giant S Type star, from 300 light seconds away.

It was so startling to see the size of the star from a distance at which most stars show up as tiny circles that i went to scan the full system, and see what the star looked like from the furthest planet out. Well, it was still humongous compared to the few pixels every other star i’ve seen so far would have been.

A giant S Type star, from 3000 light seconds away. Most stars in game would be a dot at that distance.

A giant S Type star, from 3000 light seconds away. Most stars in game would be a dot at that distance.

Finally, about a thousand light-years further corewards, scanning a blue dot revealed an Earth-like world, the fourth of my trip so far, and the third that was yet undiscovered.

Another newly discovered Earth-like world, yay.

Another newly discovered Earth-like world, yay.

I’m now some 5 thousand light-years from the Great Annihilator system, which should be my last big landmark before Sagittarius A*.

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Approaching the BLEAE AEWSY nebula.

Approaching the BLEAE AEWSY nebula.

Another week of slow cruising has gone by, with a lot of random system scanning. I lucked out on a second undiscovered Earth-like world, a few ammonia worlds, and lots of water worlds and life-bearing gas giants. I’m now about half-way between Lave and the Great Annihilator, a black hole inside the core not too far from Sagittarius A* that i will be aiming for on the way.

Very noticeable since i left NGC6357, the BLEAE AEWSY nebula felt like a convenient general direction for my next stint, and so i’ve been watching it grow ever larger day after day, jump after jump. Yesterday, i finally reached it and crossed it slowly through ‘economical route’ navigation mode. That’s a neat tip i found on the Frontier forums: rather than manually pick close systems every time when you are in an area you would like to explore a bit more, simply switch the navigation computer to economical routing and simply plot a route across the area. The amount of small low-fuel jumps will ensure that you get to visit a good few systems as you travel.

The first striking impression of this nebula is its ominous dark colours. Very little light makes it through the gas clouds, making the inside sky an intimidating black and red landscape with little visible stars.

Inside the ominous red clouds.

Inside the ominous red clouds.

To ease the mind, i found myself drifting into illuminated ice rings, the blue haze soothingly contrasting the red skies.

Blue rings, red sky.

Blue rings, red sky.

A nice surprise in my traversal was an Earth-like world, already discovered of course as close nebulas have already been scanned by explorers for months. The night sky must be rather impressive from the ground.

Alien sun in a red sky above an Earth-like world.

Alien sun in a red sky above an Earth-like world.

Finally, on my way out of the nebula, i watched a sun rise over a planet, between the galactic plane and the red clouds.

Red sky sunrise.

Red sky sunrise.

Time to leave the beaten track again, and head through the undiscovered systems that populate the dark between the clouds. As dark and ominous as some of these landscapes were, i have to say all those “First discovered by” tags on the system map screen made the place feel positively crowded

Ice cap, water, land, breathable atmosphere... My first Earth-like world discovery.

Ice cap, water, land, breathable atmosphere… My first Earth-like world discovery.

I’d been waiting for this moment, and two weeks into my slow journey towards the galactic core, it finally happened… While scanning a binary system, i found myself looking at a number of very blue-looking planets. Two around the primary A class star, locked to each other in orbital embrace, and one more around the distant second star. A short cruise later and the surface scanner results were in: i was facing my first Earth-like world, yet undiscovered. Oceans, land, ice, breathable atmosphere, human-friendly surface gravity and temperature (though on the cold side), everything checked… Even more beautiful was how it was orbitally locked with a companion water world of equivalent size which qualified as a terraforming candidate. Twin blue worlds.

Closeup, watching the orbital companion water world in the distance.

Closeup, watching the orbital companion water world in the distance.

I spent a while cruising above the surface, wishing i could land. Atmospheric landing can’t come soon enough… Failing that then, i went to drift above the dark side, and watch the sun rise above the surface of my new world.

Sunrise on the new world.

Sunrise on the new world.

Then glided further to watch the gradually illuminated oceans.

Drifting to the day side.

Drifting to the day side.

Finally, i went to see what the new world was like seen from its twin.

The companion water world, with the Earth-like world visible in the distance.

The companion water world, with the Earth-like world visible in the distance.

The third blue planet, around the second star, turned out to be another water world, to add to the two high-metal content planets qualifying as terraforming candidates. This is a gorgeous system.  And only some ~10k light years from civilisation! 🙂

 

The main star at Pismis 24-1 and its companion in the distance.

The main star at Pismis 24-1 and its companion in the distance.

First major stop on my way to the galactic core, NGC 6357 is a nebula in the constellation Scorpius where many stars are forming. It is also the host of a large number of massive blue stars, including the extremely bright Pismis 24-1 later found out to be not a single source but multiple stars in close orbit. The open cluster Pismis 24 was therefore on my list of places to visit in there, and it did not disappoint, with a beautiful pair of bright blue stars.

The screenshots don’t do these justice though, as the distance to the stars don’t let one appreciate their size. Much smaller but more visually impressive were a pair of red stars in very close orbit.

Close red binaries.

Close red binaries.

Further exploration of the nebula led me to scan my first few black holes and play with the gravitational lensing effect that the game implements.

Gravitational lensing around a black hole in Pismis 19.

Gravitational lensing around a black hole in Pismis 19.

Some random exploring later took me down into the rings of a beautiful brown dwarf, possibly one of the most eerie places i’ve been to so far in this game.

Diving in the rings of a brown dwarf.

Diving in the rings of a brown dwarf.

It was then time to head out again towards the core after a last goodbye…

Cruising in NGC 6357.

Cruising in NGC 6357.