The Best Sights in the Solar System?

The other day I got to thinking about what future Solar System explorers might consider to be the the top ten sights in the Solar System.

With the recent lunar eclipse it is perhaps inevitable that I would think eclipses might make a top ten list. So, to start with a couple of "easy to reach" sights, a solar eclipse seen from the Earth would be first on the list. The pictures I've seen all look spectacular and people I know that have seen one all think they are great. I haven't yet seen one myself because I was clouded out in Cornwall back in 1999. A second eclipse for the list would be a solar eclipse from the Moon (that would be seen as a lunar eclipse from the Earth). You would see the night side of the Earth surrounded by a thin, red ring of Earth's atmosphere - what a sight that would be! I was going to also suggest seeing the Earth from the Moon but you get this for free by seeing the eclipse!

Away from the Earth-Moon system, my next stop is Mars. Many people may suggest Olympus Mons as a great sight but I think I would prefer to see the amazing landscape that is Valles Marineris. It is over 3000 km long, 600 km across and about 8 km deep. The only trouble is that you wouldn't be able to see across it from the ground because the curvature of the Martian surface is too great. To get around this, some kind of balloon flight through the Martian atmosphere may be in order.

Following the recent images from New Horizons I think seeing huge volcanic plumes from Tvashtar on Io would be an essential stop in the Jovian system. Seeing Saturn and its Rings whilst stood next to the icy geysers on Enceladus may be quite cool too. It would certainly make a good photo.

OK, that brings me up to five, but these lists usually have ten entries. If you can think of any more essential sights that future Solar System travellers would go out of their way to see, please add them in the comments below.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 10th Mar 2007 (11:29 CET) | Permalink
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