We study the geometry of algebraic numbers in the complex plane, and their Diophantine approximation, aided by extensive computer visualization. Motivated by the resulting images, which we have called algebraic starscapes, we describe the geometry of the map from the coefficient space of polynomials to the root space, focusing on the quadratic and cubic cases. The geometry describes and explains the notable features of the illustrations, and motivates a geometric-minded recasting of fundamental results in the Diophantine approximation of the complex plane. Meanwhile, the images provide a case-study in the symbiosis of illustration and research, and an entry-point to geometry and number theory for a wider audience. In particular, the paper is written to provide an accessible introduction to the study of homogeneous geometry and Diophantine approximation. We investigate the homogeneous geometry of root and coefficient spaces under the natural action. Hyperbolic geometry and the discriminant play an important role in low degree. In particular, we rediscover the quadratic and cubic root formulas as isometries of and its unit tangent bundle, respectively. Utilizing this geometry, we determine when the map sending certain families of polynomials to their complex roots (our starscape images) are embeddings. We reconsider the fundamental questions of the Diophantine approximation of complex numbers by algebraic numbers of bounded degree, from the geometric perspective developed. In the quadratic case (approximation by quadratic irrationals), we consider approximation in terms of hyperbolic distance between roots in the complex plane and the discriminant as a measure of arithmetic height on a polynomial. In particular, we determine the supremum on the exponent k for which an algebraic target α has infinitely many approximations β whose hyperbolic distance from α does not exceed . It turns out to fall into two cases, depending on whether α lies on the image of a plane of rational slope in coefficient space (a rational geodesic). The result comes as an application of Schmidt’s subspace theorem. Our results recover the quadratic case of results of Bugeaud and Evertse, and give some geometric explanation for the dichotomy they discovered. Our statements go a little further in distinguishing approximability in terms of whether the target or approximations lie on rational geodesics. The paper comes with accompanying software, and finishes with a wide variety of open problems.