Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer, is a fantastic resource. I’ve been a fan of his blogs and books for quite some time. He has a gift for taking complex astronomy concepts and making them simple and entertaining, and his enthusiasm is contagious. On top of that he’s also a skeptic and spent a few years as the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation.
He’s also a huge nerd, he’s our people.
For a while now he’s been doing a series of educational videos for the Crash Course YouTube channel, called Crash Course Astronomy. They’re all fascinating and fun to watch, but recently he posted on the topic of binary and multiple star systems. I knew that binary systems were rather common, but I had no idea how often larger systems have been found, and I had no idea that Polaris is a pentuple system.
There’s some amazing stuff in this video, things that could really lead to some fun ideas for sci-fi gaming, What kind of societies would spring up in a system with five gravitationally bound stars and planets orbiting several of them? What might happen in such a setting?
Actually, Issac Asimov did ponder that question back in 1941, with his story Nightfall. It’s a fantastic read.
The video goes on to touch on how these stars can interact with each other, which makes for even more great fuel for adventure ideas.
Give it a look, and then watch more of his videos. It’s well worth the time.