If you’ve been on the internet the last few days, you’ve probably seen this image. It’s a brand new picture of a tiny, tiny part of the observable universe, equal to a “grain of sand held at arm’s length.” Each one of those tiny little things is its own GALAXY.
1.But let’s back up for a second. This is the Earth! This is where we live.
2.And this is where you live in your neighborhood, the solar system!
3.Here’s the distance, to scale, between the Earth and the moon. Doesn’t look too far, does it?
4. THINK AGAIN. Inside that distance you can fit every planet in our solar system, nice and neatly.
5.But let’s talk about planets. That little green smudge is North America on Jupiter.
6.And here’s the size of Earth (well, six Earths) compared with Saturn:
7.While I have you here, this is how many Earths can fit across the diameter of Jupiter:
8.And just for good measure, remember lovable little Pluto? We know what it looks like now!
9.We even have images of Pluto’s surface:
10. But that’s nothing compared to our sun. Just remember, you live on one of those BARELY visible dots to the right of the sun:
11. And you see that little black dot next to the sun? That’s Mercury:
12.But let’s talk about Earth. Here’s Earth from the moon:
13.Here’s Earth from Mars:
14.Here’s Mars from Earth:
15.Here’s Earth from just behind Saturn’s rings:
16.And here’s Earth from just beyond Neptune, 4 billion miles away.
17.Let’s step back a bit. Here’s the size of Earth compared with the size of our sun. Terrifying, right?
18.Here’s that same sun from the surface of Mars:
19. And here’s the size of a black hole compared to our solar system:
20.But that’s nothing. Again, as Carl once mused, there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth:
21. Which means that there are ones much, much bigger than our little puny sun. Just look at how tiny and insignificant our sun is compared to VY Canis Majoris, one of the biggest stars we know of:
Our sun probably gets its lunch money stolen.
22.Here’s another look. The biggest star we have observed, VY Canis Majoris, is 1,000,000,000 times bigger than our sun:
23.But none of those compares to the size of a galaxy. In fact, if you shrank the sun down to the size of a white blood cell and shrunk the Milky Way galaxy down using the same scale, the Milky Way would be the size of the United States:
24.That’s because the Milky Way galaxy is huge. This is where you live inside there:
By the way, the Milky Way is about 100,000 light-years across:
25.But even our galaxy is a little runt compared with some others. Here’s the Milky Way compared to IC 1011, 350 million light-years away from Earth:
26.But let’s think bigger. Here’s another picture with thousands and thousands of galaxies in it. This picture, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, contains millions of stars, each with their own planets.
27.Here’s one of the galaxies pictured, UDF 423. This galaxy is 10 BILLION light-years away. When you look at this picture, you are looking billions of years into the past.
28.And just keep this in mind — that’s a picture of a very small, small part of the universe. It’s just an insignificant fraction of the night sky.
So just remember…
This is your home.
29.This is what happens when you zoom out from your home to your solar system.
30.And this is what happens when you zoom out farther…
33.Just a little bit farther…
35.And here it is. Here’s everything in the observable universe, and here’s your place in it. Just a tiny little ant in a giant jar.