Today, one of my favorite astrophysicists, Ethan Siegel of Starts With A Bang, reminded his audience of just how big the Milky Way actually is.
We've come to the point where 1 billion stars have been identified by scientists.
1 billion, so very much... "keep in mind that this is still less than 1% of the stars in just one galaxy out of hundreds of billions in the Universe."
The Milky Way is said to have 200-400 billion stars. It's such a meager number in comparison to it all; yet this fills such a ridiculously large span of space in comparison to our solar system, and so very much more in comparison to our world.
As I look at the night sky every night, (partly a result of nicotine) I am reminded of a trick on the human mind which reminds us that our scope of perception does not include these huge quantities.
42, a memorable number if you're a fan of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, comes to mind often when I look up at the moon.
Fold a standard piece of paper in half. Again, in half. (2) Again in half. (3)...
42 times, and the length, side by side, of the pieces of paper will span the distance from the Earth to the Moon. (221,457 - 252,712 miles depending on orbit)
When I was younger, I never thought I'd find it so important to respect exponents.
-----Sharing via these buttons will share the current article page, unless your current url is the main page of Astronasty. Click the title of the article to go to an individual article page.
Share Spread the Love