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AstroBits: Tidbits To Share With Friend & Foe Alike!


Within the GALLERY link is a listing of gallery pages. The Astro Gallery is a collection of astrophotographs taken by TK861 using an old beat-up Pentax SLR camera. Click on the astrogallery to view the photos. These were not produced with a telescope as it's a major pain in the ass to photograph in "prime focus" - with a camera attached to and looking through the telescope.

  • Now for some astronomical facts:
    1. Because distances are so great in space, astronomers needed numbers to work with without a crap-load of zero's, so larger units (than miles/kilometers) became necessary.
    2. There are 3 basic units of galactic measurement:
    3. Astronomical Unit (AU)- The Average Distance from the Earth to the Sun equals ONE AU.
        1. This is equivalent to approx. 92.9 million miles!
    4. Light Year - Defined as the Distance light travels in one year, at a velocity of
        1. 186,000 miles per second. It is approx. 6 million million miles, or 63,000 AU.
    5. Parsec - One Parsec equals 3.26 light years.  Then of course there's MegaParsecs!
        1. The distance to the Whirlpool Galaxy (shown below) is 15,000,000 ly, 4.6 megaparsecs.
    1. A tidbit from yesteryear regarding a Light Year: Pioneer 11 traveled through space at
    2. 110,000 miles per hour - yet at that speed, it would take 6,000 years to travel one light year.
    3. To travel across the Whirlpool galaxy at that speed would take: 180,000,000 years!
    4. Following are some interesting little tidbits concerning our own Solar System, consisting
    5. of one star, our Sun and various planets/satellites (moons), not to mention known and
      uncharted asteroids and comets.

    6. Within Our Own Solar System
      Planet/ Object
      Distance to Sun

      Millions of Miles

      Number of Satellites



    7. Following are some interesting little tidbits concerning other suns and sun systems
    8. within your own galaxy, the Milky Way. (See the table) This galaxy is comprised of
    9. billions of solar masses (suns), perhaps much like your own. Other solar masses are
    10. part of huge systems of solar bodies, called star clusters. Pictured below is M5,
    11. Omega Centauri, seen in the Southern Hemisphere. The number of solar masses
    12. (suns) estimated within this Globular Cluster reaches to hundreds of thousands, if not
    13. millions. If *planets* exist in these areas (keep in mind, we've only been counting
      *suns* up to now)... IMAGINE how many planets may be out there! Thanks to
    14. modern CCD imaging and the Hubble telescope, your race is now discovering
    15. other planets within these systems!
    17. As we (the Earth) orbit around our Sun, each of the solar bodies in a single star
    18. cluster also orbit around each other, and all of us together ride the galactic tide
    19. together, in the arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. You probably thought surfing the
    20. net was a big deal, riding the spiral arm of our galaxy is pretty phenomenal, if you
    21. think about it.
    23. Outside your Solar System, within the Milky Way Galaxy
      Distance from Earth
      Alpha Centauri - Nearest Star  
      4.3 light years
      M42 The Great Nebula in Orion. An Emission Nebula

      16 light years

      1,600 light years
      M4 - Nearest Star Cluster

      100 light years

      15,000 light years
      M5 Globular Cluster- One of the largest Clusters

      300 light years

      25,000 light years


       The M5 Cluster
      each one of these dots is a SUN
    1. Following are some interesting little tidbits concerning other galaxies,
    2. far, far away! Each of these three galaxies is easily seen on a dark
    3. night with binoculars. They will only look like fuzzy splotches, but you
    4. are in fact seeing a massive system of suns, solar clusters, nebula
    5. (gaseous clouds), quasars, pulsars, novas, supernovas, black holes
    6. and other yet undiscovered phenomena!
    8. The Andromeda Galaxy alone is estimated to contain 400 billion solar
    9. masses! Ya wanna tell me another solar system like ours can't exist?
    10. How many galaxies are there, how many suns exist out there?
    11. In terms of the universe, altough we are signficant on our planet, we
    12. are amoebe of the universe... what a happy thought!
    14. Outside our Milky Way Galaxy
      Distance from Earth
      M31 Andromeda Galaxy 160,000 light years
      2.5 million light years
      M51 Whirlpool Galaxy
      30,000 light years
      15 million light years
      M104 Sombrero Galaxy
      26,000 light years
      42 million light years

    Click on the galaxies to see a larger pic and caption:

        M31 Andromeda
      M51 Whirlpool
      M104 Sombrero



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