Monday, February 25, 2013


My fascination for the heavens started during the time I learned to look up in the sky one night and wonder to myself what these tiny blinking lights are.  I started to read books about these and that started my fascination for the stars. Due to the light polluted sky in Manila at night, I was not able to appreciate much of the stars when I look at them at night and I could only recognize a few patterns like the constellation of Orion (which is my favorite).  When we went to a place far from the city that is when I appreciate the night sky more. I can see a strip of light, much like a splatter of milk in the sky. Try it, look into a cloudless night sky and look at those lights until you can see that milky band.

What you are looking is actually one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy – our home galaxy:

Imagine that map at the top there is actually something that says “Our Solar System”. That means that is basically the calculated place where we live. Where our Sun could be found, and where the planet Earth is located. Isn’t it mind-boggling to think that we live in a place so huge. Actually so huge that you need to travel a distance of 100,000 light years to get from one end of the galaxy to the other!  Other sources say that the diameter of the Milky Way is between 100,000 to 120,000. 

Let me give you an idea how large are we dealing with here:

Light year – distance a ray of light takes to travel in a year. As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one Julian year. That is around 10 Trillion Kilometers. And that is 10,000,000,000,000!!

So even if you have a spaceship that could travel the speed of light, It would take you 100,000 or 120,000 Earth years to travel from one end to another. Give it some thought about the vastness of our galaxy. 

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