A BSG colonies star map? So say we all!

By Phil Plait | January 28, 2011 1:27 pm

If you’re a Battlestar Galactica fan, then here’s something you’ll need to navigate the colonies: a star map of the Colonial systems created by BSG writer and co-executive producer Jane Espenson and science advisor Kevin Grazier!

OOOoooo, can I get a "frak yeah!" from the flight deck?

That’s pretty cool. And given that Kevin has a degree in astrophysics and works on the Cassini Saturn probe, one assumes he knows his stuff. Heck, I know he does: we’ve been friends for a few years now. The link above goes to the sci-fi blog io9 which has an interview with Kevin and Jane about the map, too. And if you like it, you can order a 27″ x 29″ poster of it from Quantum Mechanix.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, SciFi, TV/Movies

Comments (52)

Links to this Post

  1. Twelve Colonies « Universe Sandbox | blog | January 28, 2011
  1. caprica six

    BSG ending it’s beautiful run has left a wee void. God I love that show. Now own the DVDs, but, damn, waiting for each week’s profound new dilemma of the Galactica and the race for survival was such a ride. Not too many shows had the kind of depth BSG did. Those script and song writers of the BSG series are aces in my book.

  2. caprica six

    * ugh, it is “its”, not “it’s” * lol

  3. chris j.

    when ron moore said the 12 colonies were all in one star system, i was very disappointed given the reimagined series’ other efforts to be scientifically plausible (but don’t get me started on galactica’s engines being always on). but i never thought of a quarternary star system – a very imaginative solution.

  4. JR

    I’m a huge fan of BSG and Caprica, and that poster is just awesome. It’s a reminder that the writers and science advisers have created a really compelling fictional universe that’s ripe for exploration.

    With the new show coming out (which will probably focus a lot more on action, so hopefully it will get the ratings to stay on the air for more than one season), I hope there are even more opportunities to flesh out the world(s) of BSG.

  5. BJN

    A Mormon theology, astrology, and ancient Greek religion mash-up meets fantasy astronomy. Check your skepticism at the door…

  6. MarcusBailius

    Nice. I also have the DVDs. And indeed I did check my skepticism. And was very glad I did!

  7. Boojum

    I have to laugh, I never would have imagined that Mormon cosmology would be so prominent in a BA posting!
    I mean really, Glen Larson got a chunk of his ideas for Battlestar Gallactica from his being a Mormon. Kobol is a derivation of Kolob, the Mormon name for the central star where the God Elohim dwells. The whole notion of the council of twelve and that there are “Lost Tribes” that are supposed to reveal themselves at some point near the end of days. Thanks for making me chuckle and blast a bit of my afternoon coffee out my nose.

  8. I hope I don’t get banned from here, but the only “new” BSG (“BSG:TNG”?) I’ve seen is the free episode on iTunes — “33” — which appears to be the first episode after the pilot. (And I haven’t seen any Caprica episodes.)I wish I could see a few episodes before I splurge for the whole series on DVD. (I remember the original BSG with Lorne Greene. I understand this is nothing like it, being much better.)

    Speaking of which, there are numerous “complete” sets of DVDs. Which one is “really” complete?

  9. Badwolf

    lol, that’s cool. me and my friends have just started watching battlestar galactica. it’s really cool, but we don’t have enough money to buy it, and renting it every week is getting expensive. luckily, we discovered that our library has the first season, and so our weekly battlestar galactic nights can continue. it’s not as good as doctor who (of course :D) but we all really like it.

  10. Firemancarl

    I have much lurv for “33”. However, I think the finale was absolute garbage. The fight scenes were awesome, but the whole idea of them flying their ships into the sun? It left me with the feeling that the writers just decided ‘To hell with it’.

    What’s sad is the show could have run for 10+ seasons ala Stargate.

  11. Why does every conversation about BSG have to focus on how much people disliked the finale? (Which was actually really good in places).

    There are more than 70 episodes – many of which are among the finest things ever broadcast. Was it really just about the destination for you, and not the journey?

  12. JR

    By the 4th season, it was already going downhill (which is sad, because I loved it). And it was clearly set up to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. If would have overstayed its welcome well before it got through 10 seasons.

  13. Michael I

    colonies of kobol

    So how many colonies does FORTRAN have?


  14. MichaelL

    I want I want I want! Can’t wait for the new series to come out as well!

    BTW, you can also see the BSG series bible here:

  15. Michael Swanson

    Don’t miss the excellent to a stunning model of Copernican and Tychonian solar systems on the same page!


  16. Brian Too

    @13. Michael I,

    If you’re talking bacterial, then many. Oh, so many!

  17. sHx

    Mormon theology in BSG? This is the first time, I’ve heard of it. That would tarnish BSG’s image somewhat. But I wouldn’t go any further than deriving Kobol from Kolob.

    My impression is that BSG is a pretty godless place. Sure, they talk a lot about their gods, angels and temples and whatnot, and they even turned one of the major characters into a Joseph Smith kinda prophet.

    But their religion is unlike anything we are familiar with. There is no good vs evil, there is no hell, and I can’t remember if they ever talked about the ‘soul’. By comparison, Star Trek completely sidelined religion. It falsely assumed that if people stopped believing in god, then they’d also stop talking about it, too.

    Could the BSG exodus be a metaphor for Joseph Smith and his new-found tribe? It certainly could. But it could also be a metaphor for Chairman Mao and the Long March.

    I don’t mind examination of religious issues on TV and cinema. What I do mind are producers and directors who first assume spirituality on the part of their audience, and then go about nudging them towards a particular direction.

    The perfect example of this is Lost. In terms of religiosity, the first five seasons were unobjectionable. Indeed, two of my most favourite characters were Catholic priest wannabes: Desmond and Mr Eko.

    However, the last season of Lost is absolutely appalling. It is as though the producers had completely run out of ideas and they had nothing to fall back on but the incidental religiosity of the first five seasons. They went both Catholic and catholic big time in the last episode, as if they truly wanted to enshrine their success in defrauding so many of their loyal viewers’ goodwill. It was the nearest thing to rape by a Catholic priest that I ever experienced. Honestly, I felt quite dirty for remaining loyal to the show right to the end.

    As for BSG, here is a memorable line from the TV mini-series:

    “You cannot play God then wash your hands of the things that you’ve created.”

    Thank you, Commander Adama, sir.

  18. Messier Tidy Upper

    OOOoooo, can I get a “frak yeah!” from the flight deck?

    Well, I’m not on the flight deck (alas) but you certainly get a big “FRAK YEAH!” from me! 😉

    Awesome poster / star map. 8)

    Can’t wait till we find real systems like it out there. :-)

    BSG was a great show which I followed for a while but it did seem to peter off towards the end and I sort of dropped away & lost track – not helped by TV scheduling at ridiculous hours (Not that *that’s* unusual for SF shows. *Sigh*) but then not showing on time or at all after all anyhow & not advertising it when it was on. This reminds me that I really must find a copy of it on DVD / VCR somewhere / time.

    @ 17. sHx : I thought that ‘Lost’ really lost the plot bigtime. 😉

    I saw the first season or two then stopped watching as it became just too convoluted, contrived and silly. Shame it seem to have such promise at first before then it went completely off-track and just became a dog’s breakfast. :-(

  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    @3. chris j. :

    ..when ron moore said the 12 colonies were all in one star system, i was very disappointed given the reimagined series’ other efforts to be scientifically plausible (but don’t get me started on galactica’s engines being always on). but i never thought of a quarternary star system – a very imaginative solution.

    Multiple stars with four or more suns are fairly common, for example the bright star Castor (Alpha Geminorum – despite the fact that Pollux is slightly brighter) has no less than six stars :


    An even brighter and more famous example of a mukltiple is the quadruple star system of Capella, the sixth brightest star in our skies which is made up of two yellow giants orbited by two more red dwarf stars.

    Then theres the star Epsiloon Lyrae otherwise known as the “Double Double”


    Which gives us four Sirian A type dwarfs for the price (or journey of 160 ly?) of one!

    We also know planets can survive in some unlikely systems such as – just possibly – the case of Nu octantis :


    Which has a swelling young orange giant of one solar mass together with a faint K or M dwarf plus an unconfirmed probably backwards orbiting superjovian exoplanet.

  20. sHx


    What do you make of BSG? I’ve noticed that the BSG fans are divided as to which season is the best. Many fans complain that Season 4 was chaotic and senseless. In my view, the first year was the weakest. It got progressively better after that. Only in the final season that BSG truly reached its zenith.

  21. That poster is awesome. So say we all.

  22. I’ve just created a 3D simulation of the Twelve Colonies using the gravity simulator, Universe Sandbox:

    The four stars are in orbit around their various barycenters and all the planets on the map are included. Caprica and Gemenon orbit each other and Aerilon and Canceron are at the L4 and L5 points of Delta and Hestia.

    Because this is a simulation it’s fully editable and destructible. Spawn a massive star and watch everything get sucked in.

  23. Messier Tidy Upper

    @20. sHx :

    Well, I haven’t seen the whole thing (no spoilers please!) and I’ve missed many episodes especially from the later seasons. Been ages since I last saw BSG too. :-(

    I thought Battlestar Galactica [Mark II] started really well and I enjoyed the first couple of seasons* but then BSG went a little awry to me in a puzzling “this doesn’t quite add up” (not in a good way) sense – and felt a bit flat and like it was not really going anywhere – although I missed a few eps and that didn’t help before sort of deciding I’d missed too much to make it properly worth following. So some of it may be down to that to be fair to the show. :-(

    Which season was the one with the Pegasus and the multiple assassination plots? I thought that arc was pretty good and it wasn’t too long after that that I lost track hindered by poor TV channel programming.

    TV SF series~wise my all time favourite show would have to be Babylon-5 with Firefly and Dr Who tying for second. BSG was good and I’d certainly rate it up there personally but not qute in the class of those three faves. :-)


    * Or so given BSG was bit broken up and spread around by its Aussie TV broadcaster – ie. we saw maybe half the first season shown then there was a break (sporting thing on or something like that) then it returned in a new later timeslot and we got another chunk of consecutive eps before another break then ..well you get the picture! 😉

  24. Digital Atheist


    the final season was chaotic and senseless at times.. the ending being the biggest batch of tripe i ever saw. of course it did have the bright spot of Galactica’s final battle though…

  25. Andrew W

    Twelve habitable planets in one star system is a fascinating idea. The idea of having terrestrial planets at the L4 and L5 points of a gas giants orbit is reasonable as far as I know, and habitable Pandora type moons of gas giants is also (just) feasible. So perhaps it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, though it still sounds a bit greedy, it’s a big Universe after all.
    Another thing worth considering is that even if life started on only one of the planets, after a few large meteorite impacts it could end up on them all.

  26. Chemmomo

    There’s one problem with the map: why are the corners squared off? Shouldn’t the corners be trimmed, to make the map octagonal?

  27. IsobelA

    Definitely a huge FRAK YEAH! from me! I’ve always wondered how the twelve colonies fit together (especially when watching Caprica), I may even have mentioned it on here.

    May actually have to buy this, BSG has turned me from a girly girl to a geek! Hurrah.

  28. John EB Good

    FRAK YEAH?! …So say we all! So say we all!! SO SAY WE ALL!!!

  29. chris j.

    Messier Tidy Upper @19:
    my point was not that i couldn’t conceive of multiple star systems, but that moore’s comments seemed to imply 12 habitable planets around a single star.

    hmm. the map says caprica and gemenon are double planets with a 28.2 day revolution period. at that distance, shouldn’t they be tidally locked?

  30. QuietDesperation

    Why does every conversation about BSG have to focus on how much people disliked the finale?

    It’s the sad state of genre fandom. If the Matrix movies are mentioned, you *must* deride the sequels. Personally, I really liked Reloaded, but whatever. You must also deride season 5 of Babylon 5 and ST:TNG from, oh, season 6 to 7, I think?

    Star Trek V must be shot down as “Kirk versus God? Duh!” almost to the point where I think some don’t even realize it was just a big uberalien posing as God to get a ship to come and free it. Actually, Captain Kirk standing up and giving a real God an earful would have been awesome. 😉

    The BSG finale wasn’t my favorite, but I harbor no ill will. I preferred the idea that events were taking place in Earth’s future and that Earth was the original homeworld, but, hey, it was Moore’s baby. There were too many expressions and idioms that we have today that hinted at what I thought was the truth. And the final five hearing that song, well, I thought that was the Big Reveal that Earth was their ancestral home. I mean, it’s a Bob Dylan song they were hearing, not part of the musical score. That one thing alone did most of the breakage of the finale for me.

    People derided it for the “God” thing again, but the line where the #6 says “He hates being called that” implies just some large alien force out there manipulating things. *shrug* Is that really any worse than the mysterious force behind Clarke’s monoliths in 2001? Is it any worse than The Force? Or “Q” in Star Trek? Nah.

  31. That is EXTREMELY cool! I’m definitely ordering at least two. It’s too bad Caprica didn’t work out as well as it should have, although the final episode atoned for a MULTITUDE of missteps.

  32. From the page with the map, I found a link announcing who will be playing Adama in the new spinoff series (which SyFy will no doubt cancel after one season). The curious can read about it here: http://io9.com/5744115/this-is-the-face-of-battlestar-galacticas-new-william-adama or check my blog article about it: http://wilybadger.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/say-hello-to-captain-emo/

  33. john freeman

    Very cool! And some real thought and understanding of real physics has gone into it. I never bought the idea of 12 habitable planets in one system, unless there had been some really aggressive terraforming going on. The show was a great antidote to too much ropey star trek forme, and though it was far from perfect for that alone it’s got a place on my DVD shelf. FWIW I thought the chaos of the final season was a symptom of too many unanswered/ unanswerable questions and too much backstory that could only ever be hinted at – and since that would only have built up with further series i think the decision to axe it was a good one. And the ending was a cop out, but I can’t come up with a better way to resolve half of the questions that it did, so perhaps it was the lesser of two evils (the greater being pushing on indefinately to avoid the questions and ultimately doing an X-files on us).

    By the way, I love the BSG take on ‘All around the watchtower’ . I wonder what Bob Dyllon and Hendrix woud have thought of it?

  34. OtherRob

    I may be in the minority, but the finale didn’t bother me. The action sequences were awesome, of course, and I either liked the rest or, at worst, just felt kinda “meh” about it. I kinda liked that this took place in our past and the earlier revelation that their “Earth” was a blasted ruin was a definite “oh frak!” moment for me.

    While I may not have chosen to send the ships into the sun (my wife thought it was just stupid), I can see where they were coming from and why they did it. And didn’t one of the early explorers burn his ships when he arrived in the New World?

    I did dislike it when it was revealed at the end of the 3rd (?) season that the mysterious music turned out to be “All Along the Watchtower”, but that was because I felt it took us out of the BSG universe and into ours. But seeing how they resolved that, it bothers me less now.

    I’ve read some people say that the finale ruined their enjoyment of the rest of the series and that it diminishes it. Even if I hadn’t liked the finale, there’s no denying that BSG is one of the best shows ever. So saw we all. :)

  35. kevbo

    Am I the only one who thinks Galactica 1980 was the best of the franchise?

    C’mon. Cousin Oliver as Dr. Zee? What could be better than that?

  36. OtherRob

    Yes, kevbo, I believe you are…

  37. Messier Tidy Upper

    @32. chris j. Says:

    Messier Tidy Upper @19: my point was not that i couldn’t conceive of multiple star systems, but that moore’s comments seemed to imply 12 habitable planets around a single star.

    Fair enough. :-)

    I do find it concieveable – although unlikely – that, yes, you *could* get 12 inhabited planets of one star, esp. If you allow for terraforming and maybe panspermia notions too.

    The brighter the star, the greater its Habitable Zone (HZ) – although the whole HZ concept has a few major issues and question marks. So a brighter late F type star may well have more habitable planets (albeit for a shorter time as these stars die much younger) than our Sun and a multiple of several such stars could theoretically work assuming things are set up ideally for the various planets exact qualities.

    In fact, our Earth may be one of several life-bearing planets and moons in our own solar system – life could, perhaps-just-maybe exist on Europa, Mars, Venus (in the clouds and in the past), Titan and Enceladus plus just possibly very different life forms floating within Jupiter and the other gas giants.

    When our Sun expands to red-giant-hood it will likely melt the ice on many now frozen and inhospitable worlds possibly making Titan and the other outer moons inhabitable – plus Pluto, Charon, Eris, Haumea, Quaoar, Ixion, Varuna, Sedna, etc .. These ice dwarfs won’t be habitable for long astronomically-wise and they’ll be very different from Earth-like planets but still, its a thought.

    Of course a lot depends on how optimistic or pessimistic you are life-wise and there are still many unanswered questions and large uncertainties over all this. One school of thought argues life & habitable worlds are everywhere and may be abundantly common, another that life (& habitable places) is exceptionally rare – & especially intelligent life.

    Personally, I think the truth will probably be somewhere in between. Although based on Earth’s history so far I’d probably have to say technological, intelligent life like ours will be rare. If I recall right, for about half of Earth’s history the most advanced living things were single-celled bacteria. Moreover, (& I think Carl Sagan noted this) if all our planet’s history is condensed into a year, Humanity would appear at the last minute before midnight on New Year’s Eve.

  38. sHx



    the Pegasus events happened in Season 2, and yes it was probably the strongest of all story arcs in BSG. There is some continuation to that in Season 4 Episode 0, “Razor”, which is pretty much a stand alone feature length episode that is not related to events in S4. Still, it is frakking great!

    I’d strongly recommend that you start watching BSG from the beginning to the end. It is amazing! Quite possibly, the best sci-fi TV ever. It also has the best ever score for any TV show. The music in Season 4 is just too good for TV.

    I regret twisting my nose at it in its first year and, honestly, I still don’t think highly of Season 1, except as an eye-candy. BSG dips a little in the second half of Season 3, but, as I said earlier, it reaches a crescendo in its final year.

    Intellectually, Season 4 of BSG is the most satisfying, and the nearest thing to a Blade Runner on TV.

  39. sHx

    @25 Digital Atheist

    I strongly believe that the apparent chaos and senselessness of Season 4 was by design, not by accident. I believe (I could say ‘I think’, BTW, but let me stick to ‘I believe’) chaos and senselessness was precisely what the producers intended.

    Now, I don’t want to sound pretentious here invoking Wagner and the Ring of the Nibelung while discussing BSG, but this comparison might be useful. If you have two describe each one of the four operas that make up the Ring Cycle in a single word, you’d have:

    The Rheingold = hubris
    The Valkyrie = love
    Siegfried = heroism, and
    Gotterdammerung = decay

    Watching Season 4 of BSG, my mind kept going back to “Twilight of Gods”, and how that opera tried to capture chaos and decomposition, right from the first notes.

    I believe that is precisely what BSG people wanted to express in S4: a sense of decay and hopelessness and atrophy and degeneration…, just like Wagner did.

    Many BSG fans will disagree with me I ‘m sure. And I too have issues with the final episode. However, S4 was the most intellectually satisfying year of BSG. I’m still of this view after much reflection.

  40. sHx

    I won’t say who said what in which episode so as not to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but this must be BSG’s finest moment:

    “In all your travels, have you ever seen a star go supernova?”


    “No? Well, I have. I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the Universe. Other stars, other planets and eventually other life. A supernova! Creation itself! I was there. I wanted to see it and be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum. With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air.”

    “The five of us designed you to be as human as possible.”

    “I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I want to – I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can’t even express these things properly because I have to – I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the wind of a supernova flowing over me! I’m a machine! And I can know much more! I can experience so much more. But I’m trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!”

  41. OtherRob

    I like your comments about S4 being about decay and chaos, sHx. I think we see a lot of that, especially in the events after the discovery that their Earth is a blasted ruin the Tom Zarek/Gaeta mutiny.

    And, yes, the speech from your post #43 is wonderful.

  42. Messier Tidy Upper

    @41. sHx : MTU, the Pegasus events happened in Season 2,

    Okay, thanks. :-)

    Great speech there too. I really must get a complete copy of BSG on DVD / VCR someday and watch the whole thing all the way through.

  43. Michael

    Was I the only one that thought the new Battlestar Galactica was mind-numbingly boring? It was all melodramatic drivel.

    I actually watched the entire series (never missed an episode) hoping that it would get good at some point. What a huge disappointment! If I want boring drama I will watch CBS. When I am watching Sci-Fi I want action.

  44. reidh

    Kobol, amusingly very close to Kolob, the Mormon Home Planet.

  45. reidh

    @Michael #46. I know that Eddie Olmos is thankful to you as well as those easier entertained.

  46. QuietDesperation

    If I want boring drama I will watch CBS.

    You forgot to call it soap opera. To be a true member of fandom these days, you must refer to even a single particle of expressed human emotion or actual character development as soap opera.

    When I am watching Sci-Fi I want action.


  47. bob


    Oh, and when I watch Sci-Fi, I want science fiction not a bunch or religious nutjobs who seem incapable of asking even the most obvious questions. Like, “Where did my nuke go?”

  48. People were disappointed with the finale because many of them realized that there was a good probability that 99% of the “survivors” would be dead in a couple of years, since not one of them knew how to survive as hunter-gatherers (any farming attempts are pretty much doomed, since even if they know how to farm, they don’t know how to do it without seeds and metal and irrigation and fertilizer…and we *know* there are no signs of farming 150k years ago, so…) – especially hunter-gatherers deliberately spreading themselves as thin as possible.

    In fact, “Hera” probably ended up the only survivor…and then died in her twenties sometime after her third or fourth child.

    People are disappointed because, in the end, we had our heroes acting pretty much as stupidly as you can while still being able to remember to breath…

  49. Koichi Ito

    If stars of 12 colonies of Kobol are more like Vega and Sirius A than Sun or Alpha Centauri A as well as Epsilon Eridani and 40Eridani A, there will be only will be native lower lifeform(which no higher than reptiles such as turtles) on planets. And all intelligent lifeforms are imigrants!


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