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The Scale of the Universe

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Divinity reveals herself in all things… everything has Divinity latent within itself. For she enfolds and imparts herself even unto the smallest beings, and from the smallest beings, according to their capacity. Without her presence nothing would have being, because she is the essence of the existence of the first unto the last being. 


Animals and plants are living effects of Nature; this Nature… is none other than God in things… Whence all of God is in all things… Think thus, of the sun in the crocus, in the narcissus, in the heliotrope, in the rooster, in the lion…. To the extent that one communicates with Nature, so one ascends to Divinity through Nature.  — Giordano Bruno, 1584

The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life. The greatest asses of the world are those who, lacking all understanding and instruction, and void of all civil life and custom, rot in perpetual pedantry; those who by the grace of heaven would reform obscure and corrupted faith, salve the cruelties of perverted religion and remove abuse of superstitions, mending the rents in their vesture. It is not they who indulge impious curiosity or who are ever seeking the secrets of nature, and reckoning the courses of the stars. Observe whether they have been busy with the secret causes of things, or if they have condoned the destruction of kingdoms, the dispersion of peoples, fires, blood, ruin or extermination; whether they seek the destruction of the whole world that it may belong to them: in order that the poor soul may be saved, that an edifice may be raised in heaven, that treasure may be laid up in that blessed land, caring naught for fame, profit or glory in this frail and uncertain life, but only for that other most certain and eternal life.  — Giordano Bruno, 1585

The Scale of the Universe

Interactive Visualization


1. Nearest Stars to the Sun

Nearest stars to the Sun, computer graphic. The 30 stars nearest the Sun (centre) are found in the 20 star systems shown here. The concentric circles are 1 light year apart, out to 10 light years from the Sun, and lines show the positions of the stars above (yellow) or below (red) the celestial equator. The closest stars are part of the Alpha* Centauri star system (below Sun). The brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, is at centre right. The colours of the stars indicate the type of star (Sun-like stars are yellow). For a version of this graphic without labels, see R620/275.

* Alpha Proxima is our nearest neighboring star: 4.3 light years away. It’s actually one of a three-star system that includes Alpha Centaur. Two stars tumble about each other and the third star orbits those two.


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Photo Credit: MARK GARLICK

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2. Location of the Solar System in our Galaxy (The Milky Way)

Artist’s conception of the spiral structure of the Milky Way with two major stellar arms and a central bar. “Using infrared images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have discovered that the Milky Way’s elegant spiral structure is dominated by just two arms wrapping off the ends of a central bar of stars. Previously, our galaxy was thought to possess four major arms.”

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There are about 250 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light years side to side. The diameter of the bulge in the center is 30,000 light years. The thickness of the disk at the earth is 700 light years.

The solar system orbits the center every 250 million years: a galactic year

The galaxy is 13-15 billion years old The solar system is 4.6 billion years old.

3. Earth’s Location in the Universe

A diagram of Earth’s location in the Universe in a series of eight mapsthat show from left to right, starting with the Earth, moving to the Solar System, onto the Solar Interstellar Neighborhood, onto the Milky Way, onto the Local Galactic Group, onto the Virgo Supercluster, onto our local superclusters, and finishing at the observable Universe. Courtesy of Wikipedia and Azcolvin429

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Solar System: 0.001 light-years wide

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Milky Way: 100,000 light-years wide

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Courtesy of Wikipedia and Azcolvin429

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