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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

We Ain't Going Nowhere

by Jay Allbritton
I love stuff like this.

From Astrostuff.com:

Our sun is a star [represented by a ping pong ball]. The closest star system to our Sun is Proxima Centauri, in the Alpha Centauri complex. If Proxima Centauri were a second ping-pong ball, how far away must we place it from the first, to stay within our scale model? The answer is, start driving. And be sure to bring some food for the trip, as you must drive some 2300Km away to place the second ping -pong ball in it's correct location to represent Proxima Centauri, while the first ball represents our sun. That's about the distance from Toronto to Tampa Florida!! This helps us understand why we cannot resolve individual stars into discs from any earth-based telescope, including Hubble. The only reason that we can see them at all is due to the copious amounts of light they emit. Our own sun is no exception, when you consider the light from a full or partial moon, is simply the moon reflecting a very small portion of sunlight back to earth.

It's wicked far. Just sayin'.


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