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May 20, 2014

Do you know where you are in the Milky Way?

sunmilkyway.jpg

We can point to our home on a globe, and find Earth in a model of the solar system, but where are we in the Milky Way? All spiral arms lead to the Milky Way’s centre.
There, a bar of stars in long, looping orbits forms the tapered shape of a cat’s pupil. This eye is 27,000 light years across – nearly as wide as the distance between Earth and the galactic centre – and pokes out of the galaxy’s plane at a 45º angle. Above and below this midsection, nearly 200 spheres, each packed with hundreds of thousands of ancient stars, orbit. Out of the Milky Way’s plane, these ‘globular clusters’ live their long lives in isolation from each other and the rest of the galaxy. If Earth were inside one of them, our night sky would beam down thousands of stars as bright as Sirius.
- - €“ Sarah Scoles @ Aeon

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 20, 2014 1:57 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

So what or who is the big ball of light at the center?

Posted by: Jewel at May 20, 2014 5:28 PM

Jewel: the big ball of light is God.

As to the question, we are here. Everything else is there.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 20, 2014 9:24 PM

First I have ever heard it claimed definitively that the Milky Way is a barred spiral, and first I have heard that said bar would stand out from the plane of the rest of the galaxy at 45 degrees!

Posted by: Ray Van Dune at May 20, 2014 9:58 PM

First I have ever heard it claimed definitively that the Milky Way is a barred spiral, and first I have heard that said bar would stand out from the plane of the rest of the galaxy at 45 degrees!

Posted by: Ray Van Dune at May 20, 2014 9:58 PM

OK. Just who went out there to place the arrow pointing to Earth and then make the photo?

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at May 21, 2014 4:39 AM

And the our solar system is no located inside one of the spiral arms, but between a couple of them. If we were inside, the stellar radiation would be so intense that life could never have formed.

But wait! There's more!

Our solar system enjoys a near-perfect circular orbit around the gravitational center of the galaxy. If it did not, we'd have long ago plunged either into the galactic center of have been captured by one of the spiral arms.

But don't worry, this is all "random chance."

There are some serious scientific skeptics about the quest to find ET. Here are two: Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at May 21, 2014 6:37 AM

And the our solar system is not located inside one of the spiral arms, but between a couple of them. If we were inside, the stellar radiation would be so intense that life could never have formed.

But wait! There's more!

Our solar system enjoys a near-perfect circular orbit around the gravitational center of the galaxy. If it did not, we'd have long ago plunged either into the galactic center of have been captured by one of the spiral arms.

But don't worry, this is all "random chance."

There are some serious scientific skeptics about the quest to find ET. Here are two: Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at May 21, 2014 6:37 AM

Aren't all the specks of light suns?

Posted by: Potsie at May 21, 2014 6:47 AM

OK Vermont, the sixty-four dollar question.:

See, you gotcher Flash Gordon, right? And him and Dr. Zarkov are always flying around the universe. They go to Mongo, OK? Well Emperor Ming tricks them into taking that sign and sticking it in where it is, to guide Ming's warships to obliterate Earth. Well, Flash is too clever to be tricked by Ming so he points the sign the wrong way and when Ming's warships follow it they are eaten up by the huge power vortex at the center.

Potsie: all them bright points are the souls of space warriors that died keeping the universe free for Democracy. Kind of a memorial but way better than anything John Lennon ever got.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 21, 2014 7:22 AM

And also consider this:

If you take a single grain of sand to represent earth, then the sun is an orange 20 feet away. And Jupiter is 80 feet away.

At that scale - the earth the size of a grain of sand - how far away is the other end of the Milky Way?

..... drumroll ....

Twenty-four million miles.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at May 21, 2014 1:58 PM

Aw, c'mon Donald. It ain't that far. I can see the thing with my naked eye. Maybe a hunnert miles or thereabouts. The sign must be six, seven feet tall.

Posted by: chasmatic at May 21, 2014 9:28 PM

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