Sunday, September 10, 2023

How Small Am I?

I was floating in my pool a couple of weeks ago and noticed the moon way up in the bright blue sky. I began to ponder how far away the moon was and amazed at how humans made the trip up to the moon in 1969. I am amazed that we could do that with the technology that was available at that time. A little research shows that the moon is, on average, about 238,555 miles from Earth. That is quite the trip! My mind began to ask other questions and further internet research revealed that the Sun is about 93 millions miles from Earth. When I start looking above and thinking about the vastness of space, I realize just how small I am here on Earth in the big scheme of things. 

Once you get past the distance from Earth to the Sun, distances begin to get measured in light years, a year of traveling at the speed of light (189,282 mile per second!). Our solar system including our sun and orbiting planets is estimated at .5 to 1 light year in diameter. Go further out and our Milky Way Galaxy is a much as 100 thousand light years across. It is estimated that there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe. That is simply unbelievable and hard to wrap your mind around. I have seen some of the Hubble telescope images of distance galaxies and the images are simply amazing and show different shaped galaxies dotting space. Our own Milky Way Galaxy can only be depicted as an artist rendition because we haven't sent a camera out far enough to get an outside view. Our furthest spacecraft, Voyage 1, has been heading out to space for 46 years and is just now getting to the edge of our solar system. It would take another 40,000 years for it to exit our galaxy!

I read a description of a scale comparison of our solar system to the Milky Way and it said if you placed a quarter on the ground in the U.S. the quarter would represent our solar system and the U.S. would represent the size of the Milky Way. That is incredible! And it said that earth would be a microscopic piece of dust on that quarter. Then, if you think smaller, how big would a person be on that speck of dust, on that quarter in the middle of the U.S. We are but a tiny thing in this universe. 

Yet, the majority of us think we are pretty big stuff! I tend to view the universe as rotating around me and my family. I picture my family sitting at a dining room table or at a gathering at my home and can visualize a giant rotating hurricane circling around us while we sit in the eye of the storm. My world is my small little circle while the rest of the universe rotates around us. Boy, do I have it all wrong! When I think of how vast the universe is, and how short a human life really is, I think of the Bible verse "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14. Our time on earth is so small compared to the time that has passed and the time to come. 

I see nothing wrong with my visualization of my family being the center of my universe. But, I should expand it a little and include other friends and acquaintances that I regularly interact with. I should expand it a little more and include those I can impact in some way through my living or giving. 

Maybe, after reading this post, the next time you look up at the night sky, you will think about the vastness that surrounds us and realize we may not be as big a deal as we think we are!

Have you ever done some deep thinking about the vastness of space? Have you been impressed with some of the Hubble photos of space? Does the world rotate around you and your space? Have you expanded your space to include connections in your city, state or across the globe?


  1. If you haven’t already, check out the James Webb telescope pictures. They make the Hubble pictures look like grade school crayon drawings.

    You can even lose your mind going the other way thinking about the neutron in that knee cap atom, one of trillions that comprise your right kneecap.

    I try to leave such imaginations to the professionals.

    1. I will check out the Webb photos. Yes, I have thought about the smaller things when I have seen articles about the trillions of micro organisms on our body.

  2. One of my early memories is as a child looking up into the night sky and asking my father if when he did so it made him feel really tiny. Now sixy years later, I still get that same sense of awe.

    1. It is pretty amazing, yet sometimes we hardly even think about it at all. I've always enjoyed looking at a meteor shower or visible planets.