Here are some of my favorite tidbits about space that can make you feel small, amazed, and in wonder about this amazing universe we inhabit. Some of
these I'm sure people already know but they are good to go over every once in a while. Also if anyone has any they would like to add, please feel
free to do so.
You could fit ALL of the planets in our solar system between earth and the moon with about 5,000 miles to spare.
Light travels at 186,282 miles per SECOND! Most people know that even at that speed it takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach earth, but did you know
it takes 5.3 hours to reach Pluto?
The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. You could fit 1.3 million Earths inside of the Sun. The Sun makes up 99.8% percent of the mass in our
solar system. If the Sun was a soccer ball in New York Cities Central Park, the Earth would be a pea in Hawaii.
Though our star is no slouch, it is also not the biggest in the neighborhood. The biggest we have discovered in the universe is UY Scuti. A bright red
super-giant and pulsating variable star in the constellation Scutum. It has a volume nearly 5 BILLION times that of the Sun! A hypothetical object
travelling at the speed of light would take about seven hours to travel around UY Scuti, whereas it would take 14.5 seconds to circle the Sun. If
placed in the center of our solar system it would engulf anything through the orbit of Jupiter.
Scuti's location zoomed in
We can never be sure of how many stars there are in the galaxy. We can only estimate or make wild guess at the number. But according to an Australian
National University study, the estimate is 70 sextillion. Put another way, that's 70,000 million million million. There are more stars than all the
grains of sand on all the beaches of earth!
One of my absolute favorites is the Hubble ultra deep field. By collecting faint light over many hours of observation, it revealed thousands of
galaxies, both nearby and very distant, making it the deepest image of the universe ever taken at that time.
To me the most amazing thing about this photo is that it was taken in a tiny piece of the sky. Just imagine how immense the universe is if this is
just from this tiny patch:
There’s a gas cloud in the constellation of Aquila that holds enough alcohol to make 400 trillion trillion pints of beer. It is ten thousand light
years from Earth. The cloud is 1000 times larger than the diameter of our solar system. To down that much alcohol, every person on earth would have to
drink 300,000 pints each day—for one billion years.
The largest structure in the observable universe is about 6-10 billion light years wide. That's right, light traveling at 186,282 miles per second
would take 6-10 BILLION years to span the distance. Hercules–Corona Borealis Great Wall is about 6-billion light years wide and is about 10 percent
of the observable universe. It lies in the Northern Hemisphere, centered on the border of the constellations Draco and Hercules.
And last but not least, The milky way.
In 1999, Astronomers focusing on a star at the center of the Milky Way measured precisely for the first time how long it takes the sun to complete one
orbit (a galactic year) of our home galaxy: 226 million years. It measures some 120,000–180,000 light-years in diameter. Our Solar System resides
roughly 27,000 light-years away from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust particles
called the Orion Arm. As galaxies go, the Milky Way is a middleweight. The largest galaxy we know of, which is designated IC 1101, has over 100
trillion stars. Dwarf galaxies such as the Large Magellanic Cloud have about 10 billion stars. The Milky Way has between 100-400 billion stars
The center of our galaxy is called Sagittarius A, a massive source of radio waves that is believed to be a black hole that measures 14 million miles
across or about the size of Mercury’s orbit. The most recent estimates place the age of the Universe at about 13.7 billion years. Our Milky Way has
been around for about 13.6 billion of those years, give or take another 800 million.
So basically in your life time, you will move the distance around the Milky way equivalent to how far the MINUTE hand on a clock moves in ONE
Earth from 3.7 billion miles away, taken by the Voyager spacecraft.
It is facts like these that make me wonder how anyone could think there isn't life out there somewhere. Has other life visited here? That's
debatable, but we cannot be all alone in this massive expanse we call home.