Destination Gliese 445

I don’t like the word ‘unremarkable’ when talking about stars.

Billions of tons of material coalescing, compressing and fusing to make huge quantities of energy is never ‘unremarkable’

But Gliese 445 is not exactly a show stopper.

It is not visible with the naked eye being a magnitude 10.78 star.

It is small, being a quarter of the size of the Sun and while our own star is a not too common G Type main sequence star, Gliese 445 is an all too common Red dwarf M type main sequence, of which ¾ of the stars in our neighbourhood belong.

Red Dwarf. An artists impression. NASA

Nothing to get too excited about then. A faint star in the constellation Camelopardalis, 17.6 light years away, sitting close to Polaris, unseen in the eyes of most of humanity.

But Gliese 445 will have a role to play in human history, not that anyone will probably realise when it happens.  In fact humanity may not even be around to notice, or have simply forgotten.

In 40,000 years time an iconic piece of the late 20th Century will flypast Gliese 445 at a distance of 1.6 Light Years.

1.6 Light years?  Not exactly close by normal ‘flyby’ standards, but then a 40,000 year journey is not exactly normal either.  That’s 40 millennia, 400 centuries, 14,600,000 days….by these standards the pyramids were built recently and the Romans are practically modern.

Weighing 722 Kilograms and not dissimilar in size to a London bus Voyager 1 is currently the fastest moving human object at a staggering 38,200 mph.  Not bad for an object lofted into space by an upgraded Cold War nuclear missile.  This September Voyager will have been moving for 35 years and travelled over 11,000,000,000 miles, which also makes it the furthest human object.

1977. A weapon born in the calamities of the 20th Century sends Voyager on it's journey to the stars.

Amazingly it is still sending back data, though now it takes 33 hours to get confirmation of a command.  You could go to bed twice before Voyager answers you.

Right now if you look at the constellation Ophiuchus you will be also looking at our little emissary to the stars.  Just look at the distance that little probe will cross in our sky to reach Gliese 445.

Voyager 1. A long way from home.

An emissary usually carries a message and Voyager is no exception. 40,000 years from now, when perhaps the very nature of human history in our time will have been forgotten, our languages long extinct our little probe will pass Gliese 445 and still be holding a golden disc.

A disc filled with languages and music no longer heard, images of a history long past and people long since dead. 

“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours.” Jimmy Carter

The Golden Disc. The 20th Century journeying to the stars.

About astronomersden

Daddy, Hubby, Teacher and when ever I get the chance Astronomer.
This entry was posted in Astronomy, Extraterrestrial life, Gliese 445, The Astronomer's Den, Voyager and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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