Sunday, March 27, 2011

G is for...

G is for galaxy

This planet circles it's sun on one of the outer arms of a swirling mass of stars circling a black hole that is slowly but surely sucking everything in. We are all 'circling the drain' so to speak.

No need to worry though. The human species won't even be a memory when this planet gets sucked in.

The Milky Way (image shows our satillite galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds, lower right)

Our beautiful Milky Way, the galaxy we belong to, as seen from this planet, is a stream of sparkling gems and wispy clouds. I remember the first time I saw the Milky Way, or was cognizant of it. I was a pre-teen and we were at the bay house of a friend long before light pollution reached that area. I learned to pick out a few constellations and I've been enamored of the night sky ever since.

an artist's rendition of the Milky Way at 10,000 light years away

They say our Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. This is based on scientific 'stuff' as we cannot actually see what our galaxy looks like from topside. The only view we get is an edge on view.

the Hubble deep field

But we can see many other spiral galaxies. Our view of the universe has been steadily expanding with the construction of better and larger telescopes but until the Hubble orbiting telescope was launched it was easy to think that we were fairly unique. We know now that not only are we not unique, we aren't even particularly different.

We are but one bauble in the sky.

Here are a few others all courtesy of Astronomy Picture Of The Day Archive (search galaxy):


  1. Beautiful pictures. Hard to think there is all that space out there.

  2. Absolutely amazing pictues...kinda brings our life into prospective...we are but a dot.

  3. I like that you changed your header to the first pic.

    Nice metaphor. :)

  4. Fabulous pictures!! It is amazing how big the "universe" is!!??!! And we are a mere speck. Sort of puts everything into perspective doesn't it?

  5. Having spent most of my youth and adulthood in a bustling city I was unaware that there even were "stars" until I was nearly 40 years old!

    And then one night in Cape Town (where there was relatively little night-light pollution) I saw a total eclipse of the moon ... and someone pointed out some of the constellations to me - I couldn't believe how ignorant I was!

  6. It really is amazing how tiny and insignificant we are when we look at our place in the context of the larger universe. Even more amazing when you incorporate time into the equation - the universe is 13 billion years old, and humans have only existed for about 100,000 years (even less if you narrow the definition of "human" to just homo sapiens. The entire history of human existence, from the most ancient "caveman" civilizations to the present, is little more than a dot on a timeline of that scale.

    Can't help but wonder what else (or who else?) might be out there...

  7. Wow, it's mind-boggling to see these images. We're just a fraction of a speck in an essence so huge, it's beyond words.

  8. Oh man. I LOVE this cosmic post.

    Yeah we circle the drain, in our own personal lives and in the bigger picture. True, dat.

    Might as well have fun until the inevitable comes around, yes? I say yes.

  9. Trip the light fantastic. Evidence that our universe is one big, sparkling party. More champagne, please. :)

  10. Beyond astonishing!
    As an amateur astronomer my husband has a zillion telescopes and Chet Raymo books etc. The only thing missing is the sky- constant cloud cover here.Oddly enough, when we went to Wyoming where the night sky is close and crisp and clean- he rarely even looked up- I think his fascination lies mostly with the extreme gadgetry.I think it is curious that we are the only animals on the planet that can actually contemplate the complexity and the nothingness of our purpose- the impossible universe and the universes beyond this one- perhaps other animals just "know" and don't bother with it,also, could be the thumb thing...So grateful for the Hubble in our lifetime- the marvel increases. Thanks for posting these astonishing pictures.

  11. Love this! Our neighbor has such a high powered security light that we don't really even need a nightlight in the house - so we'll have to head out into the country to really see the stars.

  12. we are all circling the drain really made me laugh
    you could probably start a new spiritual movement on that premise ;)

    the photos are amazing
    we are not alone


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