High Strangeness: This Vast Universe

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This Vast Universe

My amazing wife sent me an amazing tweet this morning that has got me thinking big... But maybe not big enough.

The European Space Agency (when's the last time they put a man on the moon?) has released a 9-billion pixel photo of the 84 million stars at the core of the Milky Way Galaxy, and it's a stunner. Gaze upon this image and wonder at all the alien civilizations that could be lurking out there...

Big, huh? Now imagine a UFO being launched from every little pin prick of light in this image and you'll see what we're up against... It's no wonder my MUFON bosses are asking me to recruit new UFO Field Investigators on Craigslist.
I'm not sure which is more mind-boggling: the 84 million stars in the picture, or the 9 billion pixels that comprise the image, or the fact that the size of the image file is 24.6 Gigabytes, or the realization that some poor, undernourished astronomy grad student freezing his ass off high on a mountaintop in Chile had to count all this stuff.

It's all so staggeringly big that I was beginning to think that my sense of scale couldn't possibly stretch any more... Then I went to the website of the European Southern Observatory to see the original image in its original size, and there, under this whacking 9 Gigapixel image, is a button that says...

 'Click to enlarge.'

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