Scale

Grasping the vastness of space by scaling

Space, aptly named as it is, is simply enormous.   E N O R M O U S ! !

The distance between solid objects in space is so vast that we have trouble grasping the numbers.  They are completely out of "human scale".  We can grasp the concept of 6 inches, or 10 feet, even 100 yards.  A mile (5,280 feet) is a distance we can walk in about 15 minutes.  We can even drive all day on a freeway and travel 500 or 600 miles.

But we look up at the Moon and we have no way of grasping that it's 240,000 miles away or what that means.

We can help ourselves by "scaling" familiar things way up or way down and then making a comparison.

Example:  If the Earth were the size of a tennis ball (about 2-1/4" in diameter), the Moon would be about the size of a cherry and it would be 5-1/2 feet away.


On the Navigation Bar to the right are some examples of scaling down the vast distances of space to help us get a better sense of the proportions of the gigantic distances and the relative sizes of mammoth stars and planets.


This is a very powerful video about The Power of 10.  It takes us from a couple having a picnic waaaay out into the Universe step by step, each step being 10 times larger than the last one.  Then they come back to the picnic and start going smaller and smaller, each step being 1/10th as large as the last one. 

Hold onto your seat and enjoy!