Last Sunday night, my kids and I sat in the middle of a field on a rock watching the moon turn red. My children have always been interested in space but it was so fun to hear them marvel at the idea of seeing Earth’s shadow. “It looks so big,” my daughter said at the completely darkened moon. In that realization, she came face to face with the enormity of the universe. That bright spot in the sky, that seems so familiar and common, became something new, big, and awe inspiring.
Did you see the eclipse? Here it is in a quick time lapse if you missed it.
If that inspired you, here a few videos that touch on the hugeness of our universe.
Filmmakers Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh set out to show just how large our solar system is. In this amazing video they talk about how we think of the moon as close, but it is actually very far away. And when it comes to the planets, you can never actually get a proper model on paper because “if you put the orbits to scale, the planets become microscopic.” So he set out to build a real life model of our solar system over 7 miles of desert. What he ends up with shows so much more than orbits. It shows awe and heart.
Spending a moment to contemplate the vastness of our solar system and the tiny part Earth has in it can make you feel small. But that’s nothing compared to the size of our universe! This video takes us step by step from the earth to the universe, showing us how minuscule we are in comparison to the sun, then how minuscule the sun is as compared to other stars. Once you’ve viewed the Milky Way reduced to a dot in a picture, you start to put things in perspective.
As if trying to imagine ourselves as the bit of dust on a slightly bigger piece of dust that we are in this universe isn’t enough, this video will take you from that huge perspective down to a single quark, the smallest piece of matter known to man, by exponents of 10. Which in turn should make you feel very big! You can also go to this super cool site, The Scale of the Universe, and move through a similar scale model from quarks to the entire observable universe on your own.
Assuming that your brain hasn’t melted out of your ears by now, you might enjoy this music video, “Scale of the Universe” by Boy in a Band. He has developed a rap comparing sizes. For example, if a planck (the smallest measurement in science) is a dollar, a quark is the price of Mount Everest made out of gold and a proton is worth Mount Everest made out of diamond. He goes on to compare Earth to a word and the known universe to every word ever spoken or read. Trying to follow every thought might just drive you mad, but if you want to read along, you can see the lyrics here.