900 Light Years

by mike on June 25, 2010

in Science

Stars at the Galactic Center

I could stare at this image forever.  It is a snapshot of the galactic center of the Milky Way — our home in the universe.  There are few sights as beautiful as this.  The distance from side to side (in this image) is 900 light years, at a range of 26,000 light years.

Of course, this isn’t visible to the naked eye, and the colors are enhanced.

But the Milky Way can be seen from earth.  At this NASA link, you can see a photograph that’s been taken from one of the darkest spots left in the USA — Death Valley.  How much natural beauty has been stolen from us by light pollution from things like street lights?  Can you imagine driving home from dinner and seeing that in the sky?

In fact, the International Dark-Sky Association has some suggestions about ways that light pollution can be eliminated or reduced.

This post has really strayed from my original intention — to share my wonder of the stars.  Instead, I ended up bemoaning our diminished ability to experience our existence on this planet.  Maybe at the very least it’s a good reminder to try and take a deep breath and figure out what else you’re smelling besides pollution.  Stop walking, be silent and take a long listen to hear what’s around you.  Look up at the clouds and the stars and wonder what your ancestors saw when they looked up.

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{ 4 comments }

AOA June 27, 2010 at 11:10 am

every life is an accident. one of preceding accidents. we should be grateful, and feel lucky. life is short. less than a flash in the Galaxy. whenever i think this way, i don’t want to continue working for better “life” and bigger apartments/houses and bigger cars.

mike June 27, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Your website is named changguohua… as in General Chang Guohua? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Guohua

AOA June 28, 2010 at 7:05 am

No. As it happens, there are more than one way to romanize Chinese (Cantonese, as spoken in Hong Kong) sounds. In the Pinyin system (used in the Chinese mainland), my family name (常) is romanized as Chang, which happens to be the same as another entirely different Chinese family name (张) in another Chinese sound romanization system unknown to me. I know there is a tennis player in the U.S. named Michael Chang. But he and I don’t have the same family name. But, the general does.

So for your information, the way of romanizing Chinese people and place names depends on when, where, and how the names are romanized.

Very confusing. So for the Chinese.

mike June 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

Ah-ha! Thanks for filling me in there. I didn’t really think you were a ~100-year old general! And thanks for reading…

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