U is for Universe: #atozchallenge

Infinitesimally tiny we are. It would take 59,520 people stacked standing upright to reach outer space. If you stacked that many ants atop each other it wouldn’t be the size of a human. It would be 200 feet tall. We are closer in mass to that of a single atom than we are to the size of the Earth. The entire human population can fit comfortably inside Texas.   As we expand outward we get even smaller.

1,300 Earths would fit in our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter.
1,300,000 Earths would fit inside our sun.
Arcturus, the largest known star, is 26 times bigger than the sun.

Continue expanding outward and we see the solar system. Zoom out further we can see our Milky Way galaxy. Continue outward and our galaxy turns to a smudge as we see millions of other galaxies each with their own population of billions of stars. Continue still further and we see our known universe. There is no comparison between you and the Universe. 

10 to the power of 21. That is 10 to the 21st. 1021.  That is 10 with 21 zeros after it.

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 10 septillion. That’s the estimate on how many stars there are in the Universe. If you’re not familiar with Hubble’s “Deep Field” photograph, NASA pointed that famous telescope at a completely empty piece of sky. Over 10 days it collected this image that represents just 1/24 millionth of the night sky:

Two of those points of light are stars within our Milky Way. All the rest are galaxies. Yes, galaxies comprised of millions and millions of their own stars. 

How amazing is this? How amazing is it knowing that there is something so much larger than ourselves. Something so large we can’t possible begin to imagine the size and scope of it. Yet, being what seems to us, infinitely huge, it’s all made of the same stuff.

The five most populus elements in the universe are hydrogen, helium, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. Ironically, those are the same five most abundant elements here on Earth. We are not here and the rest of the universe out there. We are the Universe. We are made of stars.



To the Moon and Back

Sometimes it’s 225,622 miles. Sometimes it’s 252,088 miles. But when you zoom in it’s only a few inches.


A little closer…


Keep going…

That’s better!

This is not an image you can see simply by looking up at the moon with your naked eye. Binoculars help. You’re wife’s camera with a 1200mm zoom lens is ideal. You can see the maria (mar-ee-uh) – Latin for “seas”. They are volcanic plains made up of rock similar to rocks found in Hawaii. So if you’re on a tight budget or don’t have time for astronaut training but still want moon-like rocks just go to Hawaii.

You can clearly see the lunar terminator, as well. It’s the line between night and day. Since this moon is waxing it’s being lit from the right (from our perspective). This creates shadows on the inside right of craters and outside left of mountains.

We are are night sky watchers. The moon is easiest thing to watch. The ISS (International Space Station) is also fun to catch. You can look up observation times for your area here. It flies by every 90 minutes but since it doesn’t make its own light you have to catch it right after sunset or right before sunrise when sunlight reflects off of it. But since it’s visible here at 4:30 in the morning, I won’t be seeing it until they start coming by in the evening.

And to think this is the exact same moon every one every where on Earth sees.

Ahh… A cool spring evening with a light breeze chiming the dragonfly wind chimes.

Through the Telescope


PHOTO PROMPT – © Douglas M. MacIlroy

“Sir, you might want to see this.”

The senior astronomer at the FMT (Field of Many Telescopes) peered through the eyepiece. “Huh. Can you get into focus?”

“I’ve tried, sir. This is as good as it gets. That’s not a meteor headed for Earth is it?”

“Can’t be. It’s moving too erratically.”

Then the fly buzzed off leaving the two men dumbfounded.

This is a story in 100 words or fewer (this one happens to be exactly 100) for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle-Wisoff-Fields based on the photo above. Click the blue frog to read more stories inspired by this photo!

The Big Picture Is Bigger Than You Think

I’m going to be a nerd for a minute. I love astronomy and so do Crash and Bang. Bang looked out of the window at the night sky just this evening and asked “Is that a daily planet?” “Yep. That’s Venus, buddy.” (We might watch a lot of Discovery Channel.) They love the night sky; the stars, the planets, the meteor showers, the Space Station. It inspires a sense of wonder.

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