What To Look For
With clear skies and nearly freezing temperatures this Eastern weekend, we will settle into optimal stargazing conditions for the entire family. Four planets, a star and our moon will round out our stargazing scavenger hunt as they all will make an appearance in our sky at various times this weekend. Be sure to take a look at the video for help on finding Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, the moon and Spica.
Wait, It’s How Far?
As mentioned in the video, Spica is roughly 260 Light Years away. Sure the number itself doesn’t seem like a lot, but what if we put “260 light years” in perspective. It’ll take more than just one envelope to work through the math on this one…
260 Light Years = 16,442,314 Astronomical Units*
16,442,314 Astronomical Units = 1,528,409,950,000,000 Miles
Jumping into the World of Weather hot rod, we can now relate the number of miles to one-way trips to various destination across the Milky Way galaxy. Interestingly, the WoW hot rod doesn’t run on normal gasoline, rather, it requires a special blend of scientific curiosity and imagination. Not to worry though, this ol' T-Bucket has an endless supply of just that. Now then, put that Bunsen burner stick shift in gear and let’s hit the galactic highway.
1,528,409,950,000,000 Miles =
582,252 one-way trips from Earth to Pluto
45,050,136 Trips from Earth to Mars
6,398,849,312 Trips from Earth to the Moon
92,765,838,188 Trips from Cape Hatteras to Sydney, Australia (Careful, this route has toll roads…and the Pacific ocean)
549,392,505,392 Trips from Cape Hatteras to Los Angeles, California
Should we go even bigger? Well, Spica is in our galaxy, the Milky Way. Just getting to the edge of our galaxy from Earth we are looking at 25,000 light years… or 52,826,202,372,393 one-way trips from Cape Hatteras to LA. The next time you find Spica in our night sky, understand that the actual light from the little white spec actually took 260 years to reach your eyeball. And the light is moving at, well, the speed of light!
*The Astronomical Unit is a standard space measurement. 1 AU equals the average distance from the Earth to the Sun (~93,000,000 miles)