At the time of writing this, you are one of approximately between seven and eight billion people on this relatively small planet.

(Image: NASA)

That planet is revolving around a medium sized star — our sun — that is almost 92.96 million miles away — so far that it takes the sun’s light about eight minutes and 20 seconds to reach us.

(Image: NASA)

That star — our sun — is is approximately 864,340 miles in diameter.  It is only one of some 100 to 150 billion or more stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.


Other than the sun, the nearest star to earth is Proxima Centauri, which is about 4.22 light years from earth.


A light year is the distance light travels in one earth year — close to six trillion miles.That means traveling at the speed of light, it would take 4.22 years to go from earth to Proxima Centauri.

The Milky Way Galaxy is approximately 100,000 light years across.

The nearest neighbor galaxy is the cluster of stars and dust called the  Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy, some 25,000 light years from our solar system.


It is actually closer to us than the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, which is roughly 30,000 light years away from our solar system.

The nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way Galaxy is the Andromeda Galaxy, some 2.2 million light years away.

(Image: NASA)

It is estimated that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in this universe — about as many as there are stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.  They extend so far away that the most distant visible galaxy at present — using present technology — is some 13.3 billion light years from earth.

It is called MACS0647-JD, and is the reddish blur in the white square superimposed over the image.

(Image: NASA)

It takes almost as long for its light to reach us as the period from now back to near the beginning of time/space — the so-called “Big Bang.”

It is estimated there are far more stars in the sky — both visible and so distant as to be invisible to the eye — than there are grains of sand on earth.  And yet approximately the same number of stars as the number of molecules found in ten drops of water.





  1. A Year of Hokku

    This information is mind boggling! You have to wonder how many earth-like planets there are in the universe (no doubt there are many) and how many have human-like organisms and how many of those are thinking this same question and how many are writing hokku-like verses! Thanks for the stimulating post, David.

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