It’s Really, Really Big

by Richard

As we’re all still recovering from the Christmas holidays here at the Jones Compound, I thought I’d drop in with a little something to blow you dudes’ minds.

I’ll let the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy take it from here for just a bit. “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space. . .”

The point I’m trying to get at here, is that space is, wait for it, really, really big. It’s bigger than you can imagine.

Take, for instance, the photo below of Saturn from the Cassini spacecraft which is even now still orbiting Saturn, the giant ringed planet.

This image shows, of course, the ringed planet itself, with the rings seen edge-on and their shadow cast across the planet’s southern hemisphere cloud tops. But look to the left, just below the rings; see that half-lit disk? That’s Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn. It’s about 500 km (310 miles) across, which may start to give you an idea of how much area this picture covers. Even though it’s as big as my home state of Colorado, it’s positively dwarfed by the looming presence of Saturn behind it… and we’re not even seeing very much of the planet here! Saturn is over 120,000 km (75,000 miles) across, nine times the diameter of Earth.

That’s right. That little ball there is a moon, more than 300 miles across, just about twice as long as the state of Florida is wide across its widest bits. That, dudes, is a long way to travel. And still that moon is positively obliterated, size-wise, by just being next to Saturn.

So, I guess what I’m really saying here is that space is, well, big.

Kinda puts the time you spend driving to the store to return that scarf into perspective, don’t it?

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