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So, how far is the nearest star to our sun?

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#1 Kaydubbed

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 09:49 PM

... if the Sun was the size of a golf ball. This man is dedicated, definitely one of us, and I think we should give him some love. This is a brilliant video for public outreach.

https://youtu.be/vcJHHU9upyE

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#2 Asbytec

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 10:09 PM

The immense scale has always fascinated me. Beyond comprehension. Without doing a peer review on his method, I'll take his word for it. That's pretty far, especially when we can relate it to a scale we can understand. 



#3 gnowellsct

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 11:40 PM

... if the Sun was the size of a golf ball. This man is dedicated, definitely one of us, and I think we should give him some love. This is a brilliant video for public outreach.

https://youtu.be/vcJHHU9upyE

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I think he wanted a vacation in the Pyrenees.


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#4 Cirus

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Posted 21 June 2019 - 11:44 PM

Bloody hell!

If only he made the sun the size of a pea, he would have been able to stay within Britain!

I know the next nearest star is a long way, but that's crazy far! The scale of universe is beyond the comprehension of our tiny brains!

Imagine the distance to the Andromeda if the sun was a golfball, you'd have to probably have to take a spaceship to Proxima Centauri 😂

(According to my calculations, you'd have to go to Jupiter to reach Andromeda, if the sun was a golfball)

Edited by Cirus, 21 June 2019 - 11:53 PM.

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#5 Asbytec

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 03:49 AM

Burnham's Celestial Handbook had a full page picture of a bunch of stars, Sagittarius Star Cloud IIRC, and said something like (paraphrasing from memory): To find the solar system you have to blow the image up to the size of the US and, if you could even find the solar system, it would be the size of a dime and the nearest star would be many miles away.

 

Contemplating that, I have not been quite right since. Something, somewhere snapped. I heard it pop. bigshock.gif


Edited by Asbytec, 22 June 2019 - 03:52 AM.

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#6 Bowlerhat

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 03:57 AM

this reminds me of that mr.bean's mini golf tee off episode. lol.gif 

 

so proxima centauri is 4.× 1016m away, and the edge of the observable universe is 8.8×1026 m..isn't it?



#7 Waddensky

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 06:14 AM

Excellent video. Our galaxy consists of a whole lot of (almost) nothing...

I like this kind of comparisons to put these huge distances in perspective :)

#8 mkothe

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Posted 22 June 2019 - 03:51 PM

Stunning! I calculated this the other day for the sun being the size of a grain of sand (0.1 mm) and came up with 30 km for proxima centauri, about how far away I live from Boston. That was sobering, it really is very empty out there! Something to to consider when seeing those star clouds and photos of galaxies with their star-forming regions.

For a moment I thought I had made a mistake in my calculation when he started driving. I didn’t think he had it in him to drive 1200 km!

Michael
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#9 mkothe

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 07:38 AM

Another (obvious but still impressive) realization I had during my commute today while listening to a Star Wars story on the radio is that it would take 4 years to get to this lonely nearest star if it was possible to travel at the speed of light. Quite a different experience than the warp drive visuals of stars zipping by.

This is true of course for both the golf ball and grain of sand analogy, but I find it more impressive when comparing it to my commuting time.

Michael

#10 Slartibartfast

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 10:33 AM

One thing that I have come to realize is how much light "slows down" the farther out you look.  By this, I mean, take a look at a picture of the Pleiades.  If a beam of light left a star on one edge of the cluster travelling towards the opposite edge, it would take 16 years to do so (given an 8 light-year radius of the cluster).  You can imagine a little photon traversing across the photograph and you would have to stare at that photograph for 16 years to see it complete its journey!  Look at a picture of the Sagittarius Star Cloud and it would take a light beam approx. 600 years to traverse!  Look at a picture of Andromeda galaxy, and, well, you get the picture. grin.gif  Light is something that seems so fast at the ordinary, mundane scale that we exist in, yet, on stellar scales so slow.


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#11 Matt78

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 12:37 PM

I don't know if anyone saw this in Boston about 20 years back, but the Museum of Science did a thing where there was a big model of the sun in the building, Mercury not too far across the room, Venus a bit further, Earth and Mars were maybe a bit outside the building on the grounds... The gas giants were in various places in Boston and its immediate suburbs, then Pluto was this bronze orb on a pedestal all the way at the end of the Green Line (train system) in Newton. I don't think I ever did run across all the planets, but it was a fun way to get the sense of scale. 



#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 12:41 PM

The number of inches in a mile is similar to the number of astronomical units in a light year.  So setting the distance between the Sun and the Earth to one inch, the distance to Proxima Centauri would be 4.2 miles.

 

Dave Mitsky


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#13 Keith Rivich

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:21 PM

Another (obvious but still impressive) realization I had during my commute today while listening to a Star Wars story on the radio is that it would take 4 years to get to this lonely nearest star if it was possible to travel at the speed of light. Quite a different experience than the warp drive visuals of stars zipping by.

This is true of course for both the golf ball and grain of sand analogy, but I find it more impressive when comparing it to my commuting time.

Michael

If you could travel to Proxima at 99% of c, disregarding acceleration and deceleration, the trip would take you only half a year, according to your on-board clocks.

 

Add a dozen of 9's to the right of the decimal point and you could cut the travel time down to just a few hours!



#14 mkothe

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:27 PM

Ah, good point!

If you could travel to Proxima at 99% of c, disregarding acceleration and deceleration, the trip would take you only half a year, according to your on-board clocks.

Add a dozen of 9's to the right of the decimal point and you could cut the travel time down to just a few hours!



#15 Kaydubbed

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 02:16 PM

Fewer than a dozen. 4 should do it  for a few-hours trip [99.999]

 

Source: http://www.emc2-expl...o/Dilation-Calc

 

 

Ah, good point!
 


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#16 Steve OK

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 03:11 PM

The number of inches in a mile is similar to the number of astronomical units in a light year.  So setting the distance between the Sun and the Earth to one inch, the distance to Proxima Centauri would be 4.2 miles.

 

Dave Mitsky

And on that scale, the distance between the Earth and the Moon would be about the thickness of a piece of paper.  That's how far we've ventured from home.

 

Steve



#17 dgordontx

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 10:25 AM

The number of inches in a mile is similar to the number of astronomical units in a light year.  So setting the distance between the Sun and the Earth to one inch, the distance to Proxima Centauri would be 4.2 miles.

 

Dave Mitsky

Not to mention, at that scale, the sun is now .236mm in diameter...



#18 sg6

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 12:38 PM

Last I read 4.234 light years, Intro course last night it was given as 4.235 Ly.

Never understood the idea of working in golf balls or anything else. Actually don't like Parsec's either - no-one seems to use them. Seems stellar distances are Lightyears.



#19 InkDark

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 12:57 PM

Keeping all this in mind you can visulaize how immense are galaxies.

 

Take two CD (which are about 12 cm wide). One will act as the Milky-Way, the other as M31. Let us suppose both galaxies are the same size, about 200 000 Ly across.

 

Put the "Milky-Way CD" on the floor. If M31 is 2,5 million Ly away from the M-W, how far should you put down the M31 CD? Only about 1,5 meters away!

 

...and it's coming for us...



#20 InkDark

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Posted 27 June 2019 - 01:16 PM

Another way to appreciate the vast distances between stars is to look at constellations.

 

From here, UMa is visible throughout the year and looks the same now as it will in 6 months when we'll be 300 000 000 Km away (other side of the sun). This can only mean that the stars of the constellation are so far away from one another that despite the size of Earth's orbit, we can't see the paralax effect without instruments.




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