How Big Is Big, and, What About You?

8 minutes — how long it takes light to move from the sun to the Earth

93,000,000 — distance from sun to the Earth

587,000,000,000,000 — distance light travels in one year (587 trillion)

35,000 — number of light years from earth to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy

20,545,000,000,000,000,000 — number of miles to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy or 20, 545 trillion miles

2,540,000 — number of light years to the nearest galaxy (Andrometer) to the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Andrometer Galaxy

13.5 billion — number of light years to the most distant galaxy

Our universe is a really big place!  Go outside and look up at the North Star (Ursa Major).  While you are looking at it consider that the light you are seeing left that star in the year 1582.

the North Star

Now look at the Cygnus constellation and its brightest star, Deneb.  That light left that star over 1400 years ago.  This means you are literally looking back in time depending upon which star you look at.  You are always seeing things as they were, not as they are.

Cygnus constellation

You all remember the first Star Trek movie?  If not, in that movie the Star Trek crew finds the Voyager 1 spacecraft deep in space.  That spacecraft was launched in 1977 and is just now leaving the outer-most part of our solar system.  It is about 11.25 billion miles from Earth and is just barely outside the solar system after 35 years!

Our sun is about 875,000 miles across.  The largest star is about 90,000,000 miles across, or about the distance from the earth to the sun.

Now here is a number for you.  Think about the sand on a beach, any beach.  Think of that sand as a collection of individual grains.  Now, consider taking every grain of sand on every beach on the earth and that is about how many stars there are in the universe.  And the distance between each and every one of those stars is always measured in light years.  The universe must be a really really huge place to hold that many stars and still have that much distance between them all.

My point, next time you think you are the center of the universe, think again.  And next time you think the universe is against you, try looking at an individual atom with your naked eye and know that is exactly how you are seen by the universe.


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