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Introduction

Last Modification: February 2, 2003

"If you seek a pleasant planetary system, look about you"

Welcome to the Encyclopedia of Suns! Many people are interested in astronomical research that touches on the relationship between astronomy and biology, or at least the possibility of biology on planets other than Earth. The popularity of research efforts such as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and extrasolar planet discovery, especially among the public, shows how strong a hold these ideas have.

Every planet hunter and SETI observer has a favorite list of Sunlike "target stars": stars analyzed in detail for evidence of planets or potential alien radio or optical signals. Despite the enormous popularity of these programs, relatively little information on the target stars (or ones similar to them) is readily available, except when strong evidence for a planet has been found.

This is where the Encyclopedia of Suns comes in. I've not only identified which stars near the Sun are, overall, highly Sunlike, I've also added other information that's not always apparent: the star's brightness compared to the Sun's, any planets or companion stars, and chemical composition information (if you want Earthlike planets, it helps to have stuff like iron and silicon, as well as hydrogen and helium). The Encyclopedia of Suns contains all of this information, whenever it's available, as well as star charts showing the location of each star in Earth's sky. With the Encyclopedia and some knowledge of the night sky, you can go out and find many of these stars yourself!

Currently, the Encyclopedia of Suns contains over 100 stars within 50 light years (15.3 parsecs) from the Sun. It contains all stars within that distance that meet specific criteria for being plausible locations for Earthlike planets. It also has some stars outside the 50 light year limit: those that are not only Sunlike, but which also have one or more planets orbiting them.

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