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The scale of the universe

Over the years, I've seen a number of attempts to give an impression of the truly staggering scale of the universe by resorting to various scaled down comparisons. The following is in my view the very best one, not only because it gives a scale that is visualisable ... but also because it is based on a rather handy close coincidence between the Earth-Sun distance in inches, and the number of miles in a light year.

So, the Sun on this scale is the size of the full stop at the end of this sentence, and the Earth is an inch away.

Jupiter is 5 inches from the Sun. Saturn 9 inches. Neptune about 2.5 feet. The entire solar system including Pluto is about 6 feet across.

On this scale, the nearest star is 4 miles away. Most of the visible stars in the night sky are within 3000 miles, yet the center of the galaxy is 26,000 miles away....and the entire galaxy is 100,000 miles across. It would stretch half way to the moon.

The nearest large galaxy, Andromeda, is 2.5 million miles away.....10 times further than the moon. The large Virgo cluster of galaxies is 60 million miles away...about the distance of Mars at its closest. And that's just nearby galaxies !

On this scale, the furthest observed galaxies in the Hubble deep field would be somewhere out by the Voyager 1 spacecraft ...11 billion miles away. And the entire observable universe would be 26 billion miles across ... about 4 times the orbit of Neptune.

And that's on a scale where the sun is the size of a full stop, and the Earth a mere inch away .

And if that doesn't make people stop fighting their silly religious wars, nothing will.



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