Scale of the Universe

The scale of the universe is difficult to grasp with the unbelievably large numbers involved. Images and videos seem to be the best approach of which I’ve included a fantastic one below. You can also find great educational videos on the scale of the cosmos at http://www.khanacademy.org/#Cosmology and Astronomy and a good interactive tool at http://htwins.net/scale/

Scale of the Solar System

The relative size of the planets is shown in the image below. However, if the Sun was the size of a bowling ball Earth would be 26 yards away! Yet that isn’t as amazing as the fact that Jupiter would be 135 yards away and Neptune (the farthest planet since Pluto was demoted) would be 777 yards away! That is nearly half a mile away from the bowling ball. Clearly the planetary scale of the solar system is immense.

Scale of the Galaxy

The nearest star to our Sun is approximately 4.2 light-years away. The Sun is one of some 500,000,000,000 stars in the Milky Way Galaxy which is about 100,000 light-year across. Since we can’t take a photograph of ourselves, here is an artist’s depiction of the galaxy.

Scale of the Universe

Lastly, the Hubble telescope took a picture of deep space that looked empty and produced the following mind-boggling image. In a tiny patch of “empty” sky it saw all of this… galaxy after galaxy after galaxy. Each one with hundreds of billions of stars that each have the possibility of planets and, ultimately, intelligent life.

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