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.


When the Stars Align

So much can go right when the stars align. Usually, we only recognize it after the fact. Hindsight being 20/20 and all. Mountains become mole hills. The wind is at our back and it’s smooth sailing. Your pizza is hot, your Coke is cold, and your team is winning.

Spaghetti Meat SauceWhen the stars align you make the perfect amount of spaghetti and sauce, for example. You know the stars are speaking to you when not only is the spaghetti and sauce in equal amounts, but there’s just the right amount left over for lunch the next day. They even finish cooking at the same time. Everything’s hot hot hot! Cha ching!

When the stars align everyone is ready for school early. This never back-to-school-backpackhappens! Feeding faces. Packing lunches. Filling water bottles. Writing notes to teachers. Getting everyone dressed. Making sure backpacks and school bags are loaded. Getting snow clothes on. Getting the trash to the curb because it’s garbage day. Having time to shave the morning. Thank you stars!

When the stars align the kids play nicely. It was nearly an entire half hour they played together. Well, it more resembled parallel play than it did cooperative play. These days, we’ll take what we can get. One built Lego buildings. The other played with Thomas trains. We built a train depot. We built two pedways over the rails and one under. These pedways lead to the hospital. There are even two “working” windmills! The stars have spoken.

When the stars align the kids are asleep before 8pm. All is quiet. We eat ice cream without sharing. No one’s screaming because their brother is “hooking”. No one is growling because their tablet time is up. While the din of the day can be pleasant, even joyful at times, we forget what silence sounds like until the kids are abed. I hear you, stars!


When the stars align you get the hotel pool to yourself. There’s no line in the 10 items or less checkout. You find shirts in just right the color for your family photo. Ice cream goes on sale. You’re blog gets views.

When the stars align, good things become great things. Small things get noticed. All the silver linings appear. The world seems right again. You’re ready for a fresh day, to start anew. Enjoy it when it happens because they won’t be aligned for long. The kids will wake up in the morning and it’ll be business as usual.