Monday. Sixteen days spent mostly in the house convalescing. Cabin fever? No. Itching curiosity to fathom more of this world? Yes. If I can’t get my fingers into the earth, I’ll read about her.
At this moment billions of photons from the mid-morning sun are streaming in through the french doors enabling my eyes to see the coffee cup in my steady hand held silently for a moment before first sip. It is a daily ritual; a profoundly important ritual of delight to savor the aroma and taste of this most exquisite addictive excellence of earthy flesh. Yes, dark roasted beans joined with frothed milk.
Below the cup is a hefty book on our Earth. Both coffee and Earth are important to me. The former for the sensory delight it brings to my humble home. The second for the multitude of gratitude I daily feel for the interwoven fleshy intricacies of this greater Home.
Inside this clay jug there are canyons and pine mountains,
and the maker of canyons and pine mountains!
All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of stars.
Seeing the cup and book together gets me to do some simple calculations on how the orbit of our little planet might relate to the sun if the sun were in the middle of the cup and our planet’s orbit were the rim of the coffee cup:
With our sun in the middle of the cup, this fiery ball would be just half a millimeter across. Sunlight streaming from our sun star would take 8 minutes crossing frothy foam to hit our Earth before venturing out to the greater world. At only .005mm in size, our planet would be hard to find anywhere along the cup’s rim.
I like drawing comparisons like this because as an artist it helps me embody some sense of factual truth about our/my place in the universe.
While sipping this ancient star dust made flesh (actually true), I make this calculation: Moving out beyond the coffee cup, the nearest star to our half millimeter sized sun would not be found anywhere in the house. Not even close. Proxima Centauri, at a distance of 4.2 light years away, would be well over half a kilometer away (630 meters) as a grain of sand at the far end of Roaring Beach.
Bit of space between our two stars, isn’t there?
Maintaining the relative size of our coffee cup sun, if I wanted to travel from my wee half grain of sand-“sun”-star in Tasmania beyond our nearest star and travel all the way across our Milky Way galaxy to its far end, I would find myself in my brother’s kitchen in Dallas, Texas. Like something out of Doctor Who. No wonder I feel so separated from my family.
Let’s move this theoretical distance over to the other side of our galaxy and drop off our sun into “Dallas” and into the hands of my two nephews Alejandro and James. But we’re going to scale things up a bit to give another sense of perspective to the vastness of space. Now, instead of a grain of sand, we enlarge our “sun” into the size of a basketball.
James is under his hoop bouncing our sun. Guess where Alejandro would have to be if he were at the other end of the basketball court bouncing our nearest star Proxima Centauri?
Madrid, Spain. Close your eyes and try and embody a sense of this distance. Our “basketball sized sun” is in Dallas, Texas and our nearest star Proxima Centauri is way, way over in Spain. Wow. Mind boggling, isn’t it?
One last item of info while the cup is drained of the last drop.
To show the dynamics of our own Milky Way and how the stars are moving continuously about, check out the above chart and, in particular, the star Ross 248. Presently 10.3 light-years away, in 31,000 years time Ross 248 will replace Proxima Centauri as the closest star to our sun at “only” 3.02 light-years distant. Can’t wait.
I think I need another cup of coffee to provide more insight into the working wonders of this grand universe.