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that's a lot of stars

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  • that's a lot of stars

    I saw this today on Astronomy Picture of the Day and I remembered a particularly poignant moment out with my 10" telescope under a very dark sky scanning across the Milky Way. The number of stars visible in the scope was sorta like this picture - so, so many. Each little point of light a star. Some bigger, some smaller than our sun (actually, at that distance, most are bigger). And then to add to that the realization that over the last 20 years it seems at least half the stars we look at closely have planets*. And keeping in mind, the planets we can detect still tend to be big ones, not little rocky ones like our earth. So think in terms of some non-trivial fraction of these little tiny dots in this image has multiple planets orbiting it. All of these are places. Places that could be visited. Places with days, and suns that rise and set (well, if they are not tidally locked anyway). Mountains, valleys. Some of them have water on them, some of them are in the habitable zones for their stars with seas and atmospheres of one kind or another.

    Who knows how many are habitable, but all of them are places as diverse as the places that exist in our own solar system and that we have only just begun to visit and to understand.


    It is just amazing, and rather humbling. And it makes the idea that we are the only life God has created in this entire universe seem more than a bit silly. Especially understanding that the processes that formed this planet, our solar system, our sun, they have all happened trillions of times across this universe - across billions of years. The light of millions of stars captured in this one photo alone. In this photo we see that beginnings and the endings of those same processes. Great gas clouds waiting to be triggered into collapse, others right at the time the light left them forming stars and planets, and other - red giants - near the end of their life times, Some stars nearing their explosive ends getting ready to send new elements out into the void to make future planets and stars, or SN remnants or maybe even some white dwarfs. All in this one picture of one very, very small corner of a galaxy that is one of billions even trillions visible across our universe (with the appropriately sized telescope of course). More galaxies than stars countable in this image, almost all the visible ones with orders of magnitude more stars in them than are countable in this image.


    M8-Pipe_APOD_GabrielSantosSmall.jpg

    *if you do a search in 'number of stars with planets' you'll see many articles on the topic. Different estimates depending on the kind of planet you are asking about. But a conservative estimate for just having at least one planet is 50%, with the reality being that it is probably rarer for a star not to have planets than for it to have them.
    Last edited by oxmixmudd; 10-01-2021, 10:46 AM.
    My 'faith' designation is 'Christian'. But I do not want the label "Christian" leading to mockery of faith in Christ. Consequently, I apologize if words of mine written in this post or others reflect poorly on the what Faith in Christ means, or what Faith in Christ can in fact do in terms of bringing Grace, Mercy, and Love into the world.

  • #2
    Welcome back, sir.

    I am so glad to be living "out in the country" away from city light pollution. And I still like to lay on my back on the picnic table and just stare up at the sky.

    As your eyes get used to the dark, the stars begin to emerge. It truly is spectacular, and "the stars at night are big and bright - deep in the heart of Texas".
    The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by oxmixmudd View Post
      add to that the realization that over the last 20 years it seems at least half the stars we look at closely have planets*.
      With political and economic upheaval, a pandemic, and more making it seems like we're living through an unfortunate period in history, it's worth while stepping back now and again and appreciating that we're also living in an amazing one. 30 years ago, the existence of a planet outside of our solar system was a theoretical abstraction. Now we have cataloged thousands of them. Same for the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, stem cells, gene editing, the genomes of humanity's closest extinct relatives, and more.

      I feel very lucky to have been here to see it all.
      Last edited by TheLurch; 10-01-2021, 11:03 AM.
      "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
        With political and economic upheaval, a pandemic, and more making it seems like we're living through an unfortunate period in history, it's worth while stepping back nod and again and appreciating that we're also living in an amazing one. 30 years ago, the existence of a planet outside of our solar system was a theoretical abstraction. Now we have cataloged thousands of them. Same for the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, stem cells, gene editing, the genomes of humanity's closest extinct relatives, and more.

        I feel very lucky to have been here to see it all.
        I need to update my "in my lifetime I have witnessed..." chart.
        The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

          I need to update my "in my lifetime I have witnessed..." chart.
          My grandmother remembered hearing the news about the Wright bother's successful flight at Kitty Hawk. She was sitting besides me on the couch when Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon.

          It never ceases to amaze me that we went from achieving powered flight to landing on the moon in the space of just one life time.


          I'm always still in trouble again

          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
          "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

          Comment


          • #6
            What if we are the only ones in the universe and God created all those other worlds for us to explore and expand to since we will live forever?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
              My grandmother remembered hearing the news about the Wright bother's successful flight at Kitty Hawk. She was sitting besides me on the couch when Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon.

              It never ceases to amaze me that we went from achieving powered flight to landing on the moon in the space of just one life time.
              I'm a couple years too young to remember the first moon landing, but i do recall my grandmother making me watch one of the later Apollo splashdowns. She had been born in 1896, before there were really any cars around to speak of, so it was a very similar thing for her.
              "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
                I'm a couple years too young to remember the first moon landing, but i do recall my grandmother making me watch one of the later Apollo splashdowns. She had been born in 1896, before there were really any cars around to speak of, so it was a very similar thing for her.
                That was about when my grandmother was born.

                I'm always still in trouble again

                "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                  That was about when my grandmother was born.
                  I know the exact date because, as the older generations died, i somehow ended up with her birth certificate. Which brings me to another addition to the "isn't the world now amazing?" list: i can go online and use street view to look up the address listed on it, and see the building where my grandmother was born in Switzerland without leaving my couch.

                  In the "less than amazing" category, it now houses an auto repair shop.
                  "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
                    I know the exact date because, as the older generations died, i somehow ended up with her birth certificate. Which brings me to another addition to the "isn't the world now amazing?" list: i can go online and use street view to look up the address listed on it, and see the building where my grandmother was born in Switzerland without leaving my couch.

                    In the "less than amazing" category, it now houses an auto repair shop.
                    I used it a few years ago to look up the house in Michigan where I lived until I was three. All I remembered was it was a split level and HUGE!

                    When I saw the Google street view the house was probably not much longer than a mobile home.

                    I'm always still in trouble again

                    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                    "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rogue06
                      My grandmother remembered hearing the news about the Wright bother's successful flight at Kitty Hawk. She was sitting besides me on the couch when Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon.

                      It never ceases to amaze me that we went from achieving powered flight to landing on the moon in the space of just one life time.
                      Originally posted by TheLurch View Post
                      I'm a couple years too young to remember the first moon landing, but i do recall my grandmother making me watch one of the later Apollo splashdowns. She had been born in 1896, before there were really any cars around to speak of, so it was a very similar thing for her.

                      I remember that with surprising clarity for it being so long ago. My normal bedtime was 9:30, but my parents allowed me to stay up late to watch them exit down onto the moon's surface. Remember, Star Trek's final season had just completed in June, and I was a major fan. I was one that had written NBC in the year before at Leonard Nimoy's request to give it another season. Just that previous spring, I had been out to see Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and just been blown away by the scenes of the Space Clipper and the Moon base and Moon shuttle. And so I had begged my parents to let me see it again. And again.

                      And here it was, happening right before my eyes - we were landing on the moon. And Armstrong came down off the ladder and said those immortal words. And we watched every thing they did over the next few days and as the missions progressed. I especially remember them - on a later mission - dropping the Hammer and the Feather and watching them slowly fall at the same speed, just like they were supposed to w/o an atmosphere. And watching them sort of hop around on the moon's surface. Then of course they figured out how to do digital transmission and we could hear them clearly, as clear as if they were just across the way on a phone. And of course, I remember waiting in class when Apollo 13 was re-entering the atmosphere. They had told us that if they did not get signal by a certain time, that would mean they would have burned up in the atmosphere. And we were all silent in our class just staring at the clock on the wall and hoping. It seemed an eternity. We thought they hadn't made it.

                      But they did.

                      It was and still is an incredible thing.
                      My 'faith' designation is 'Christian'. But I do not want the label "Christian" leading to mockery of faith in Christ. Consequently, I apologize if words of mine written in this post or others reflect poorly on the what Faith in Christ means, or what Faith in Christ can in fact do in terms of bringing Grace, Mercy, and Love into the world.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by oxmixmudd View Post




                        I remember that with surprising clarity for it being so long ago. My normal bedtime was 9:30, but my parents allowed me to stay up late to watch them exit down onto the moon's surface. Remember, Star Trek's final season had just completed in June, and I was a major fan. I was one that had written NBC in the year before at Leonard Nimoy's request to give it another season. Just that previous spring, I had been out to see Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and just been blown away by the scenes of the Space Clipper and the Moon base and Moon shuttle. And so I had begged my parents to let me see it again. And again.

                        And here it was, happening right before my eyes - we were landing on the moon. And Armstrong came down off the ladder and said those immortal words. And we watched every thing they did over the next few days and as the missions progressed. I especially remember them - on a later mission - dropping the Hammer and the Feather and watching them slowly fall at the same speed, just like they were supposed to w/o an atmosphere. And watching them sort of hop around on the moon's surface. Then of course they figured out how to do digital transmission and we could hear them clearly, as clear as if they were just across the way on a phone. And of course, I remember waiting in class when Apollo 13 was re-entering the atmosphere. They had told us that if they did not get signal by a certain time, that would mean they would have burned up in the atmosphere. And we were all silent in our class just staring at the clock on the wall and hoping. It seemed an eternity. We thought they hadn't made it.

                        But they did.

                        It was and still is an incredible thing.
                        I kind of remember sitting in front of the TV watching the moon landing. But I do remember going outside and looking up at the moon later to see if I could see anything up there, knowing there were people up there.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by oxmixmudd View Post




                          I remember that with surprising clarity for it being so long ago. My normal bedtime was 9:30, but my parents allowed me to stay up late to watch them exit down onto the moon's surface. Remember, Star Trek's final season had just completed in June, and I was a major fan. I was one that had written NBC in the year before at Leonard Nimoy's request to give it another season. Just that previous spring, I had been out to see Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and just been blown away by the scenes of the Space Clipper and the Moon base and Moon shuttle. And so I had begged my parents to let me see it again. And again.

                          And here it was, happening right before my eyes - we were landing on the moon. And Armstrong came down off the ladder and said those immortal words. And we watched every thing they did over the next few days and as the missions progressed. I especially remember them - on a later mission - dropping the Hammer and the Feather and watching them slowly fall at the same speed, just like they were supposed to w/o an atmosphere. And watching them sort of hop around on the moon's surface. Then of course they figured out how to do digital transmission and we could hear them clearly, as clear as if they were just across the way on a phone. And of course, I remember waiting in class when Apollo 13 was re-entering the atmosphere. They had told us that if they did not get signal by a certain time, that would mean they would have burned up in the atmosphere. And we were all silent in our class just staring at the clock on the wall and hoping. It seemed an eternity. We thought they hadn't made it.

                          But they did.

                          It was and still is an incredible thing.
                          Apollo 13 was a white knuckle ride for the entire country.




                          Challenger, like a punch in the gut.

                          I'm always still in trouble again

                          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                          "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sparko View Post

                            I kind of remember sitting in front of the TV watching the moon landing. But I do remember going outside and looking up at the moon later to see if I could see anything up there, knowing there were people up there.
                            Our bedtime was earlier than Ox's and I remember my parent's waking us up to come watch the moon landing. My father had his camera set up on a tripod and took pictures off of the TV as it happened. They were later turned into slides where you could clearly see the glowing number 4 off on the right hand side (it was on channel 4).


                            TL lists some incredible accomplishments we made in recent years but nothing in the last half century has come anywhere close to the "wow factor" of the moon landing.

                            Btw, I knew a bunch of people who had telescopes and even binoculars out looking at the moon hoping that they could see them.

                            I'm always still in trouble again

                            "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                            "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                            "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                              Our bedtime was earlier than Ox's and I remember my parent's waking us up to come watch the moon landing. My father had his camera set up on a tripod and took pictures off of the TV as it happened. They were later turned into slides where you could clearly see the glowing number 4 off on the right hand side (it was on channel 4).


                              TL lists some incredible accomplishments we made in recent years but nothing in the last half century has come anywhere close to the "wow factor" of the moon landing.

                              Btw, I knew a bunch of people who had telescopes and even binoculars out looking at the moon hoping that they could see them.
                              We had a weird guy in our neighborhood - a REAL geek - but a nice guy. (He called his parents by their first names, which is part of his weirdness)

                              Anyway, he had this huge telescope set up in the park behind our house on a big tripod, and it had spotter scopes on it - I don't remember exactly the configuration.
                              But we could very clearly see the moon "up close and personal".

                              We IMAGINED seeing the men walking around up there, of course, because it wasn't anywhere near that powerful.
                              But as kids - we were amazed and astounded!
                              The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

                              Comment

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