In previous posts I showed several photographs of Earth, taken from not-so-far away (astronomically speaking) that make me realise how tiny we all are. But actually I don’t even need spacecraft, telescopes or digital images to get that ‘shrinking feeling’. Nor even binoculars or any camera. A dark night and a clear sky will do. (Well and my glasses, but since they don’t magnify, these don’t count :p). And I don’t mean just looking at all those stars – no, what I find particularly impressive is seeing the Andromeda Galaxy:
Just realise what it is that you’re seeing!
Photons hit your retina after travelling through the vast emptiness of space for 2.5M years! They were emitted before humans even existed.
The Andromeda Galaxy is one of the furthest objects you can see without any magnifying aid. Individual stars are within our own galaxy, up to a few thousand light years away; and the Milky Way, that faint white band across the sky is the mixed light of many stars in the disc of our own galaxy. But this, this is completely different – all that space between our galaxy and the Andromeda! Nothingness!
And as it is a galaxy, it consists of billions of individual stars – how many of these are home to life on their accompanying planets?
All of this is visible, just standing on a piece of grass, on our tiny little Earth…