Universe vs Humans: The Cosmic Scale Tells The Tale

BY: Kavya Bhatt

Vastness of Universe - Universe is immensely large. - "Nearby" in astronomy can mean millions to quintillions of kilometers.

Light-Year as a Distance Measure - Light-year: distance light travels in a year (~10 trillion km). - Helps grasp distances in space.

Distance to the Moon - Closest astronomical object: ~380,000 km. - Equivalent to nearly 30 Earths side by side. - Apollo astronauts took three days to reach the moon.

Distance to the Sun - Sun: ~150 million km from Earth. - Equivalent to 400 times the Earth-moon distance. - Driving to the sun would take 170 years; a jet would take 17 years.

Astronomical Unit (AU) - Defined as the Earth-sun distance (~149.6 million km). - Used to measure distances within the solar system. - Examples: Mercury (0.4 AU), Venus (0.7 AU), Neptune (30 AU).

Distance to Neptune and Pluto - Neptune: ~4.5 billion km or 30 AU from the sun. - New Horizons spacecraft took 9 years to reach Pluto.

Local Group of Galaxies - Milky Way and Andromeda are major galaxies. - Local Group: ~100 galaxies, 10 million light-years across.

Virgo Cluster - Nearest big galaxy cluster: ~50 million light-years away. - Contains over 1,000 galaxies.

Superclusters and Laniakea - Clusters form superclusters. - Laniakea Supercluster: ~100,000 galaxies, 500 million light-years wide.

The Observable Universe - Universe is 13.8 billion years old, but expansion makes it ~90 billion light-years across. - Space is vast beyond comprehension, yet math and physics allow us to understand it.