Sunday, July 02, 2006

"Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars..."

Sinatra tune. "...Let me see what Spring is like / on Jupiter and Mars."

Not this kid. If I want to pay an afternoon visit, it's going to be at the Andromeda galaxy, something like two million light years away. And, incidentally, our nearest neighbor.

Each galaxy could have something like three hundred billion stars in it; there could be as many as three hundred billion galaxies. They are so far apart that it takes light millions, if not billions, of years to get from one to the other. Galaxies we look at through our large telescopes probably no longer exist, and have not existed for many hundreds of millions of years. By the time their light reached us, they long ago ran out of fuel and died out; or disappeared into massive black holes.

Stars occasionally blow up. "Occasionally" means once a second or so and I'm not sure if that's just in our galaxy or in those we can see. Probably all over the universe, as we would eventually run out of stars. Ours is not supposed to, given how it's made up, but it sure would be exciting to watch the thing explode. The view wouldn't last long, of course, and astronomers on other planets/galaxies would be saying, "Hey! Did you see that one? Hope it didn't have a populated planetary system or those suckers are crisp-fried."

When my soul and body eventually separate, I'd love to take a swing through the universe. What a cruise that would be!


Anonymous Helen said...

I wouldn't mind tagging along on that cruise. Are you a fan of Astronomy Picture of the Day? The picture on this page is the one that fascinates me the most. In this one small slice of space are something like 10,000 galaxies, each comprised of billions of stars. Can you look at that picture and believe that we're alone in the Universe? That God only chose this small solar system in the unfashionable western spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy* in which to practice His art? It just boggles the mind.

I would just love to tool around the universe and visit other inhabited planets. Tell you what, if we end up anywhere in the same neighborhood "after", we'll go sightseeing together. Deal?

*5 points for the reference

July 02, 2006 11:46 PM  
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