Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Comparison of Celestial Bodies

I remember an experiment from high school astronomy class that helped me appreciate the size of our solar system. The teacher took us to the longest hall way in the building and had students stand against the wall. The first edge of the hall way represented the sun. Students then were placed in the relative position of where the planets were. The first four rocky planets were relatively close together. However, Jupiter and the other gas giants had great distances between them. Pluto, poor Pluto, was way over at the opposite end of the hall. Since that day I have never forgotten the depth of the solar system.

Now, the below picture from Wikipedia shows a size comparision of different celestial bodies both in our own solor system and elsewhere. The largest, the mammoth sun VY Canis Majoris is 5,200 times wider diameter-wise than our sun Sol and therefore 566,800 times wider than Earth. I would give American and Metric measurements but they would be so large that it would be mere numbers and not a statistic with any meaning.

Look below at the sizes, both small and large, of these planets and stars. Then stop and think that these celestial bodies are mere specks in a much larger universe. I felt my place in the cosmos just get a lot smaller.


1 comment:

Dan tdaxp said...

Very interesting!

Some XKCD links that are appropriate...

Visualization of gravity wells:

http://xkcd.com/681/

Fun with stoichiometry and significant digits

http://xkcd.com/687/

and finally, who puts the digits in pi?

http://xkcd.com/10/