Weeeeeee….. live in the Milky Way.
I bet most of us don’t think of it that way… but we do. Here we are. Right here in the Good Old Milky Way. Home of the Free. Land of the All.
Of course I am not talking about the candy bar… which is made of chocolate-malt nougat, topped with caramel, and covered with milk chocolate. (Which also begs the question, WHY. But not tonight.)
We are talking about our living space. The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System.
Its name “milky” is derived from its appearance. It is sort of this “band” kind of thing… a dim glowing band. Its individual stars cannot be distinguished by the naked eye…. so the whole lot of them looks like a Milky….. Path…. or Way.
Galileo Galilei first “broke down” the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. I’ll tell you right now… that Galileo fella was smart as whip.
Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained ALL the stars in the Universe. Silly them. But we live and learn. We will keep learning about the mysteries of our universe. I assure you. Heck… consider the flat earth and all.
But back to it. In and around 1920, there was a big and mighty “Great Debate” between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis. They argued about their hypotheses concerning our “Outer Space and The Stars.”
Then Old Father Hubble came along. Yesssiirrreee. Observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies. And since that time… we’ve had other observations. Namely from the Hubble telescope’s Ultra Deep Field. It revealed a myriad of faint galaxies. And then an estimate…. that the observable universe contained about 200 billion galaxies. TWO HUNDRED BILLION GALAXIES.
But WAIT. There’s MORE. A 2016 study estimated that the observable universe contained ten times that number or 2 trillion galaxies.
Two trillion galaxies. Can you all throw your hands up in the air, and say Holy Crap?
Does all of that make you feel dizzy? Well… it is for good reason. The Milky Way rotates at a speed of 168 miles per second. Sooooooo … the actual place in space where you were an hour ago is now roughly 600,000 miles away. “On the Road Again… I just can’t wait to get on the road again….”
So… here we are on little earth. And we are rolling around one star. One Star. We call it Sun. And again… one tiny dot of many. The Milky Way contains between 200 and 400 billion stars and at least 100 billion planets.
When I sit too long, and think about all of this.. the limitless extent of things …. it all seems so very, very large. Beyond-words-gargantuan. Well. Not beyond words. It is infinite.
And dang it. I know I keep repeating myself… but it has me all sideways tonight. Just an hour ago, I was hundreds of thousands of miles away. C’mon….
To think of it in personal space….
You and I are just two people. Of 7 billion people, on this tiny little spec of mud, in a galaxy of 100 billion planets… in a vastness of 2 trillion galaxies.
(HEY… It is a good time for THIS Sidebar… I am still betting tons of money there’s other life, than humans, somewhere… we just can’t comprehend it).
At any rate. My little nose and I feel so very, very minuscule. A blip. One of my heroes in life….. Winnie-The Dude-Pooh…. may have said it best. “It is hard to be brave, when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”
Yet, I still believe, that in this smallness of ours….IT IS… our place in the Universe. And time, and space are evolving exactly as they should be. Which means… you and I are supposed to be here. Right here. Right now. And that in itself… is part of the Divine Works of things. Even in this slightness. We were meant to be.
So we go… and we be. Each day. I also believe, that in our small ways, we can do great things. Mother Teresa even said it was so… “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
It is a lot to consider.
A lot to absorb.
But I do suppose….. from small things, great things grow.
“You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my mind.”
― Yoko Ono