Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. ~ Carl Sagan

Planets and Stars

  1. Planet Earth: 1 million Earth's can fit into the Sun. The Sun is the star at the center of our Solar System. Our nearest star is 332,946 times the mass of Earth or 1,048 times the mass of Jupiter.
  3. Solar System: red arrows, one points to the sun, and the other points to the Earth, so tiny you cannot see it, 1 million Earth's can fit into the Sun.

  4. Solar Interstellar Neighborhood: the red arrow points to how small our Solar System is compared to the Interstellar Neighborhood.

  5. Milky Way Galaxy: the red arrow points to the Interstellar Neighborhood, which shows up as a miniscule dot with the Milky Way as its enormous backdrop. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy that includes our Solar System. It is close to 200,000 light years in diameter (200,000 x 6 trillion), contains 200-400 billion stars, and at least as many planets.

  6. Local Galactic Group: the red circle shows the Milk Way Galaxy, as a small part of the Local Galactic Group.

  7. Virgo Supercluster: the red arrow points to the Local Galactic Group, as just one of thousands of Superclusters.

  8. Local Superclusters: the red arrow points to the Virgo Supercluster, one of millions of Local Superclusters.

  9. Observable Universe: the red arrow points to 1 tiny dot, that 1 tiny dot is is the Local Supercluster, in the midst of the entire universe. At this point, our planet, Earth, is LESS than one grain of sand in the big picture, so small that it is not visible on any universal map. In fact, the Milk Way Galaxy, and the Local Galactic Group, would both not show up on an infinite, universal map.

There is, without a doubt, intelligent life in this universe. The human species, here on Earth, are no where close to being the most intelligent life form out there. We're still debating over a man who may or may not have lived, a man who supposedly came to save the world (I'll assume that he came to save this planet, unless he also visited the other gazillion planets in the Milky Way alone, to save those planets as well), and one-third of the population on this planet, still believe a 2000-year-old book was inspired by Divine Intelligence, and we fight over this.

These facts are definitely not indicative of an evolved, intelligent species. Our actions speak more toward the inhabitants of this planet being much less evolved than we think. We are in a state of evolving, but are a long way from reaching our potential. Earth is not the most peaceful planet in our Solar System. Earth is not the most peaceful planet in the Local Galactic Group, or in the Virgo Supercluster, Local Superclusters, or the Observable Universe. The Observable Universe, by the way, only makes up about 5% of what's actually out there.

The observable universe consists of the galaxies and other matter that can be observed from Earth in the present day, because light from those objects has had time to reach the Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion. The portion of the universe that scientist, astronomers, and astrophysicist have been able to view (only about 5%) is filled with hundreds of billions of giant, Milky Way-sized galaxies, each of which contains nearly a trillion stars. After 14 billion years of expansion, the part of the Universe we can see - the observable universe - is 93 billion lights years across! That is 93 billion multiplied by 6 trillion miles.

Dark Energy

About 14 billion years ago, the universe flickered into existence in an event known as the Big Bang. Its beginning is difficult for us to imagine. The early universe would have been incredibly hot - too hot for even atoms to exist - and extraordinarily dense. In fact, scientists believe that, at one point, the entire observable universe would have been about the size of a grain of sand. As the universe expanded, it became vastly larger and dramatically cooler. Atoms formed, then molecules. Gravity drew the matter into greater and greater clumps, eventually bringing into existence the stars, planets, and galaxies so familiar to us today.