what orion said

I went running tonight. After working on a news article all day, I was tired. I needed to stretch. I needed a break.


I needed to clear my head so that I could work on yet another news article. (To be started shortly. I hope.)

The air was crisp and cool. The stars and waxing moon, shining bright. Orion was standing tall above the hills, and we chatted for a bit. I told him about my day, shared my concerns; we commiserated. And I was reminded, once again, of just how small I am; and of the universe, just how big.

I learned a lot last year while I was teaching in Hong Kong, and not all of it was about how to be a better teacher. In my 4th to 6th grade Science class, we studied astronomy. We watched Bill Nye the Science Guy on YouTube. My students loved him. But I myself was absolutely amazed. Did you know that, traveling at the speed of light, it takes 4.22 years for light from Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system, to reach earth? 4.22 years! And how about that Jupiter? According to Universe Today, Jupiter is approximately 1,321 times the size of earth. Three of our earths could fit into Jupiter’s giant red storm spot alone!

I could go on. The size of and distance between the planets, their structure and that of the stars, the vast scope of the universe itself—all of it leaves me goggling. And there is so much we don’t know. After all, it’s only been a few hundred years since Galileo proved that the earth is not, in fact, the center of the universe.

But I should be getting back to that news article.

Oh, and did I tell you? Orion told me, so it must be true: We are not alone.


Proxima Centauri (image credit: NASA)


Earth vs. Jupiter (image credit: weeble.net)


Jupiter as seen from some of its moons (image credit: NASA)

18 thoughts

  1. All of this stuff just blows my mind. When I hear this stuff, I feel like an idiot munching on my popcorn ball and stating, “that’s… big”.
    I mean, what words can be spoken to do it justice? None.
    Great post. :)

    • Lol, your comment made me laugh. I’m with you on that one! There aren’t any words that can do it justice. And no way for us to wrap our idiot minds around it, either. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. Oh my, I SO dig this post and subject! Woohoo for Jessy! ;)

    That is too awesome that you taught 4th -6th graders science! I’m a 4th – 8th grade teacher in all four core subjects (math my weakest, blah/yikes!). Doesn’t the sheer size of our Jupiter, our solar system, and then beyond, simply put life (personally) into serious proper perspective!? Whoa.

    Have you observed the increased meteor showers this year through about 2015? Also, on or about Nov. 28th, 2013 the comet ISON (C/2012 S1) could be so spectacularly bright we will see it during broad daylight with the naked eye! Saawheeeeet, huh!?

    • Yay! I’m so glad you liked it.

      I taught 4th-6th all in the same classroom at the same time. (It was a small class, but still a challenge to incorporate everyone.) I was never that great at Science (or math) in school, but I really enjoyed teaching this class. I learned (relearned) a lot going through my kids’ textbooks (which were actually U.S. textbooks). And yes! The sheer size of everything in our solar system and beyond is mind-boggling!!! I absolutely love looking at the night sky… It makes me feel so small, and so full of wonder, and, strangely, less alone.

      I honestly hadn’t noticed the increased meteor showers, but I will now! In Hong Kong it was sad because it was hard to see the night sky. Many large Asian cities don’t know what they’re missing. I will definitely be looking for ISON on November 28!

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