Even at lightspeed, the solar system is pretty big

“Space”, according to the obligatory Douglas Adams quote, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is”. To help you get an idea of how big it is, watch this video, which is basically one long pull back shot, moving away from the sun, through the solar system at the speed of light itself.

That’s pretty fast right? The fastest thing there is (according to current scientific thinking) so maybe you’re thinking it should be a pretty short ride. Wrong, even at lightspeed the size of space, even the bits we know well is, as Mr Adams put it, mind-boggling. After 45 minutes when the video ends you’ve only made it past Jupiter and Saturn is another 35 minutes away.

If the video had been allowed to run it’s course and assuming you had the stamina after Saturn (1 hour, 19 mins and 19 seconds in) you’d have to wait another 1 hour, 20 minutes and 16 second to reach Uranus and another 1 hour, 30 minutes and 23 seconds to get to Neptune. If you’re old school enough to consider Pluto still a planet then it’ll only be another 1 hour 18 minutes and 2 seconds to complete the set, a mammoth  5 hours and twenty eight minutes, which would be a pretty long film to sit through, although Peter Jackson would no doubt be looking to bulk it out a bit by throwing in an unnecessary action sequence or two and some stuff that was actually in a different solar system.

What’s even more mind-boggling is this is, cosmically speaking, just our back yard and we’ve only traveled about 1.28 light seconds of it so far. We’ve got a bit of a way to go, considering there are 31,556,926 light seconds in a light year and 4.26 of those between us and our nearest stellar neighbour.

Source: Vimeo via io9

Darrell Jones

Geek Power's answer to Jeremy Clarkson. That's to say he's a sad, middle aged man with a big mouth who's trying to act like he's still in his twenties. he remembers the days of punch cards, paper tape and hard drives the size of toasters with the capacity of the kind of usb stick you might get in a Christmas cracker.

  • jpxdude

    In case anyone is curious how fast the speed of light actually is, it can be approximated to the following:

    299 792 458 m / s or
    670 616 629 mph or
    1079252848.8 kph

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