Two years ago I tried writing a science fiction story called War of the Seven. I still may go back and try to finish it, but I let the story languish after about two pages. The reason? There’s a moon base in the story, and I got hung up trying to figure out what could be realistically observed on the earth from the moon. I was mortified that I’d make reference to a geographic feature on the earth’s surface, and some uber-nerd would call me out one day and tell me it would be impossible to see whatever it was I had described in my story.
About a year and a half later I stumbled on this cool web page: Earth and Moon Viewer It actually lets you see what would be in sight at a certain time from the sun, the moon, or any number of satellites. Well, now that problem is solved for Seven. Bereft of excuses, I hope to re-attack it at some point and maybe submit it to one of those periodicals I mentioned in my last article. But this got me thinking about some other websites that could possibly be good source material for those of us who don’t have PHDs.
NOTE: I’m not saying that as a writer that you should always use anything like what I’ve listed below. Part of the fun of writing is creating without restrictions. But adding elements of realism to a story can buy you an allowance from your audience when you start making stuff up. Take a look at the Dune series. You should get college credit for reading that, and its one of the best sci-fi novels out there.
Here are a few resources I’ve dug up recently: (rest of the article here).