Among History Channel’s productions regarding our known ‘universe’ a recent program depicts astronomer’s conclusions about the size of our galaxy saying it is ‘approximately 26,000 light years from Earth to the center of our Milky Way’ and that we are on the outer fringes.
If so, then our universe is approx. 55,000 light years diameter.
This begs the question: What are our astronomers identifying as ‘the Milky Way?’ Are they really seeing just a segment, a ‘constellation’ perhaps ‘within’ our Universe — or the whole shebang? Compared to the immensity of space 26,000 light years is not very far, really.
Let’s digest this topic from other points of view.
NASA has recently retired the Space Shuttle program – perhaps they were just too slow! If our next ships, (the Constellation Program) could travel faster, let’s say the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), we could maybe zip around the universe and see for ourselves the vastness of it. But traveling the speed of light, it would take us 100,000 years to cross from one end to the other—according to NASA.
“When we leave the Solar System, we find our star and its planets are just one small part of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is a huge city of stars. It is so big that even at the speed of light (300,000 kilometers per second or 186,000 miles per second) it would take 100,000 years to travel across it. All the stars in the night sky and our Sun live this galaxy. There are also other stars that are too faint to be seen.”
Image above by Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STSCI/NASA); US Mint
“Imagine that our entire Solar System were the size of a quarter. The Sun is now a microscopic speck of dust. The nine planets are too. Their orbits are represented by the flat disc of the coin. On this scale, the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy will be about the size of the United States! How far away is the nearest star –Proxima Centauri to our Sun? In our model, it would be the size of a quarter, too. And it would be two soccer fields away! “
“So how big is the Universe? No one knows if the universe is infinitely large. We are not sure if ours is the only Universe that exists. And other parts of the Universe, very far away, might be quite different from the Universe closer to home. Future NASA missions will continue to search for clues to the ultimate size and scale of our cosmic home.”
In a nut shell this about covers Science and NASA’s estimations regarding ‘size’ of our Milky Way galaxy. What are the estimations of Earth’s religious peoples regarding our universe… the stars and the cosmos?
In our next the Universe–Part II we will look at what the religions of the world have to say regarding the size of our expanse of space.