When you see how Earth actually fits into the rest of the galaxy, you will be surprised how insignificant our small planet really is.
This is the Earth! This is where you live.
And this is where you live in your neighborhood, the Solar System.
Here’s the distance, to scale, between the Earth and the moon. Doesn’t look too far, does it?
THINK AGAIN. Inside that distance you can fit every planet in our solar system, nice and neat.
But let’s talk about planets. That little green smudge is North America on Jupiter.
And here’s the size of Earth (well, six Earths) compared to Saturn:
And just for good measure, here’s what Saturn’s rings would look like if they were around Earth:
This right here is a comet. We just landed on probe on one of those bad boys. Here’s what one looks like compared to Los Angeles:
But that’s nothing compared to our sun. Just remember:
Here’s you from the Moon:
Here’s you from Mars:
Here’s you from just behind Saturn’s rings:
And here’s you from just beyond Neptune, four billion miles away.
To paraphrase Carl Sagan, everyone and everything you have ever known exists on that little speck.
Let’s step back a bit. Here’s the size of Earth compared to the size of our sun. Terrifying, right?
The sun doesn’t even fit in the image.
And here’s that same Sun from the surface of Mars:
But that’s nothing. Again, as Carl once mused, there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth:
Which means that there are ones much, much bigger than little wimpy Sun. Just look at how tiny and insignificant our Sun is:
Here’s another look. The biggest star, VY Canis Majoris, is 1,000,000,000 times bigger than our Sun:
But none of those compares to the size of a galaxy. In fact, if you shrunk the Sun down to the size of a white blood cell and shrunk the Milky Way Galaxy down using the same scale, the Milky Way would be the size of the United States:
That’s because the Milky Way Galaxy is huge. This is where you live inside there:
But this is all you ever see:
(That’s not a picture of the Milky Way, but you get the idea.)
But even our galaxy is a little runt compared to some others. Here’s the Milky Way compared to IC 1011, 350 million light years away from Earth:
But let’s think bigger. In JUST this picture taken by the Hubble telescope, there are thousands and thousands of galaxies, each containing millions of stars, each with their own planets.
Here’s one of the galaxies pictured, UDF 423. This galaxy is TEN BILLION light years away. When you look at this picture, you are looking billions of years into the past.
Some of the other galaxies are thought to have formed only a few hundred million years AFTER The Big Bang.
And just keep this in mind — that’s a picture of a very small, small part of the universe. It’s just an insignificant fraction of the night sky.
And, you know, it’s pretty safe to assume that there are some black holes out there. Here’s the size of a black hole compared to Earth’s orbit, just to terrify you:
This is what happens when you zoom out from your home, to your solar system.
And this is what happens when you zoom out farther…
Just a little bit farther…
And here it is. Here’s everything in the observable universe, and here’s your place in it. Just a tiny little ant in a giant jar.