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In which we realise our insignificance

27 January 2009

I felt compelled to share this fantastic video footage, posted to a friend’s blog. I’m not sure where the footage originates, but the music is clearly John Barry’s The Overture from The Black Hole, a film I enjoyed when I was young:

Our small world

[Edit: Normally I wouldn’t make this kind of edit, but Unreasonable Faith posted a similar video that just had to be shared]:

Star Size Comparison

I think it does they do a fantastic job of showing the relative sizes of planets within our solar system, our Sun, and the staggering sizes of nearby stars. The extra-solar stars pictured range in distance from almost 9 ly (Sirius or Alpha Canis Major, and is also the brightest star in the night sky) away to over 20,000 ly (the recently discovered V838 Monocerotis).

To put the video into context: if V354 Cephei were placed at the centre of our solar system, its radius would end somewhere between Jupiter and Saturn. It’s that big. And just look at the final comparison between our Sun and VY Canis Major, which is the largest star that we know about. If placed at the centre, its radius would reach to Saturn. This image puts the relative distances of the inner and Jovian planets into context (image from solcomhouse):

Visible Planet Orbits

Orbit of the inner and Jovian planets

It’s just mind-boggling how insignificant our own yellow dwarf Sun is in comparison to others in our own galaxy never mind a thought for our home, this pale blue dot hurtling through space around it.

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