Space, in perspective

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by Wimbo, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. Wimbo

    Wimbo Active Member

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    I was reading about the Voyager 1 space craft that the USA launched in 1977, and it really helped me put things in perspective as to how small we are in comparison to the vastness of space. Fictional movies & TV depict travel through the star systems as such a common experience that I believe many people start believing that humans are not far from that capability. However, when you start to put some of the facts about Voyager into perspective, it is eye opening as to how truly vast space is, and how spread out the stars are.

    Consider this...

    Voyager 1 was launched September 5, 1977, so it has been operating for about 33.5 years. Voyager 1 is currently about 10.5 Billion miles from Earth.
    It is escaping our solar system at about 334,640,906 miles per year, which is 38,201 miles per hour... that is fast. If you ran around the equator of Earth at that speed, you would circle the Earth over 1.5 times in one hour.

    It took 1.5 years for Voyager 1 to reach Jupiter in 1979. 20 months later, it passed Saturn in November 1980.

    Last year, it is believed that Voyayger 1 cleared the reach of the solar winds of our sun.

    This is where I get blown away...

    Voyager 1 can still communicate with scientists on Earth via radio waves that travel at the speed of light. It takes about 16.12 hours for the signal to reach Earth. So, Voyager 1 is about 16.12 light hours from Earth. The Earth is about 8 light minutes from our sun. If you think about that for a minute, you start to get an idea of just how far away Voyager is from us right now, and it is still traveling away from us at over 38,000 mph.

    Now, get this...

    The closest star to our sun is Proxima Centauri at a distance of 4.2 light years. If Voyager 1 was traveling towards Proxima Centauri at it's current rate of speed it would take 73,600 years to get there. That is mind boggling.


    sources: NASA, wikipedia, a distance conversion calculator
  2. CowboyDan

    CowboyDan Anger is a Gift

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    vs. what? :laugh2:
  3. Wimbo

    Wimbo Active Member

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    post of the day.
  4. 63echo

    63echo Member

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    Nice write-up. I love things like this, but get wigged out at the enormity of everything. My brain starts vapor-locking if I consider this for too long or go too far outside my boundaries.

    Ever see "The Pale Blue Dot" (taken by Voyager, incidentally) and read Carl Sagan's thoughts about it? That's what put everything in perspective for me...
  5. AmarilloCowboyFan

    AmarilloCowboyFan Well-Known Member

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    There was a thread a few weeks ago about this too. I started looking up some stuff about it then and was amazed by that as well. They need to hurry up and start farming dilithium crystals and get on that warp drive so I can see this stuff before I die.

  6. Wimbo

    Wimbo Active Member

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    Seen from 6.1 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles), Earth appears as a tiny dot

    From Sagan's book:
    "From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

  7. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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  8. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Have to agree with you here...I've read alot about Voyager and it is mind boggling how far it has traveled.
  9. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Simply Amazing
  10. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    That's why it's the final frontier. :D
  11. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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