The following image will no doubt amaze and or scare you. It might make you ponder our insignificance in space, it might not, but it most probably will. It’s a gif image, so wait for it to load – by the time you’ve read this far it will already start flicking through pictures of planets and stars contained within our solar system, in order from smallest (Earth’s moon) to largest (VY Canis Majoris – 3000 million km in diameter and 4,900 light years away from our planet)
To put this into some sort of perspective:
- In one second light travels 300,000 km, which is 7 trips around Earth.
- The closest star to us that we can see in our night sky is Alpha Centuari and is 4.5 light years from Earth.
- 1 light year is 9.5 trillion kms away.
- You can fit 1 million planet Earths into our Sun.
- You can fit 1 billion Suns into VY Canis Majoris!
- A lot of these stars have planets orbiting them, just like we orbit the Sun (a star).
- It is estimated that there are as many as 50 billion planets in our galaxy, most of which are as large as Jupiter.
- There are said to be as many as 200 billion stars in our galaxy alone.
- Over 2 million galaxies have been counted, but it is estimated there could be as many as 100 million.
- The visible universe is about 15,000 million light years in size.
- If our planet is the only one in the entire universe that contains intelligent life, then we are really alone.
To view the image as a single jpg rather than an animated gif, click here.
Here’s something else that might bend your noodle – Look outside your window and take a peek at the stars, yes they don’t seem so small now do they? Since these stars are about 500 light years away (takes 500 years for their light to reach Earth and therefore be visible by our eyes) you are actually looking at space as it was 500 years ago.
Yes, you just saw the past.