Note: Since publishing this article, one of its authors, Dena, has come upon information that has caused her to question many of the numbers and assumptions contained here. However, she still aligns with the value of a more informed perspective and a more enlightened consciousness on the Earth plane.
How often do you look up and really consider the sun, moon and stars above you? What’s your place in the grand scheme of things?
We think of the earth as large, and in a relative way, it is. The earth has a circumference of 24,901 miles; it would take a plane around 40 hours to fly all the way around it. However, size is relative; our planet (and perhaps the issues we face here) only appear big until we start considering what’s around and beyond us.
Our Closest Star
The sun is our most familiar star, the closest one to our home planet earth. Without its current proximity, life on earth could not exist as we now know it. The circumference of the sun is 2,713,406 miles. If a plane could get close enough to do so, it would take it about six months to fly around it. The sun is roughly 109 times larger than the earth, meaning that 1.3 million earths could fit inside of it.
This information/perspective makes the sun seem pretty big, but our sun is actually a dwarf star – one of the smaller stars out there. By comparison, a star named UY Scuti is the largest star humans are currently aware of; UY Scuti is a hypergiant that’s approximately 4,634,497,448 (4.6 billion) miles in circumference. This makes UY Scuti 5 billion times larger than the sun.
Mapping the Solar System
With a diameter of 5,580,000,000,000 (five and a half trillion) miles, our solar system seems pretty vast. It took the Voyager 2 spacecraft around 12 years to cross most of it, and it was clipping along at a rate of 35,000 miles per hour.
To expand our perspective from here, we’ll have to use light years instead of miles. As the name implies, a light year is the distance light can travel in a year. Since light travels at 186,282 miles per second, a light year equals 5.88 trillion miles.
Galaxies, Superclusters and Beyond
Our solar system’s home is the Milky Way galaxy, which is about 100,000 light years in diameter. With an estimated 200 billion stars, astronomers believe it could hold as many as 100 billion solar systems like ours!
The closest galaxy to our Milky Way is the Andromeda galaxy. This nearest neighbor is over 2.5 million light years away from earth. It’s a large galaxy that’s estimated to be 220,000 light years in diameter.
Our Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, a smaller galaxy called the Triangulum, and several dozen substantially smaller galaxies comprise what’s called the Local Group. This group is located at the edge of the Virgo Cluster, a supercluster made up of thousands of galaxies.
Astronomers believe there could be 10 million superclusters similar to the Virgo Cluster within the observable Universe.
What’s Your Perspective?
The Hubble Space telescope zeroed in on a small sliver of outer space regularly from 2002 to 2012. If an orbiting astronaut held a pencil out in front of him, the eraser would represent the approximate size of the area. When the Hubble first started observing and photographing this tiny area, it appeared completely dark. However, after numerous exposures over ten years, this is the image that emerged:
An estimated 10,000 galaxies were revealed within a space representing just one 24-millionth of earth’s visible night sky.
How big do the earth and its issues seem now? Humans once thought the earth was the center of the Universe; it’s both humbling and empowering to get a more accurate perspective. If you ever find yourself overwhelmed by petty issues, stop and take a look up at the night sky. That is your neighborhood. With all of the stars, planets, galaxies and superclusters out there, it makes you wonder, “Who else lives in this neighborhood?”
Who Might Be Looking For Us?
With the vastness of the Universe, how likely is it that we are alone? This has been debated by educated minds for centuries. In 1961, Drake’s Equation was created to show that life elsewhere is highly likely. Some of the factors in the equation are impossible to know right now, such as how many planets that could support life actually do or have supported life.
The counterpoint to this is the Fermi Paradox which took shape in the 1950s. This essentially asks why we haven’t had a widespread extraterrestrial encounter if the Universe is really full of intellectual beings. This makes the assumption that highly evolved life forms would actually want to make contact with us.
What should a person believe and why is it important?
Does Our Planet Set the Standards?
To ignore the extent of our Universe and believe that we are all alone seems to accept that our moral, ethical and spiritual beliefs are Universal. We are evolving mentally and emotionally as well as physically, which gives us hope that our view of our world will improve. As we explore the Universe, we will take all of our beliefs with us.
If we choose to believe that there are other, more highly-developed life forms out there, we can no longer have the view that we are the center of the Universe. It can be our hope that they may have worked through some of the major problems plaguing us on this planet such as:
- reliance on unsustainable energy sources
- intolerance of racial, cultural and religious differences
- the widening gap between the rich and the poor
Being able to query those beings that have moved beyond these limitations can jump-start us in our social evolution.
Where is Everybody Then?
Why don’t we have extraterrestrials running the corner mini-mart or teaching intergalactic art history in college? (Then again, how can we prove that we don’t?) What would keep them from stopping by for a visit?
In our history, we’ve learned what can happen when we force ourselves onto another culture. Whether it’s under the pretense of studying them or reforming them, we’ve brought a lot of pain to other people. It might be in the form of a disease that wipes them out or cultural changes that water down their original culture.
We’ve also discovered that giving someone the solution to a problem is not as effective as when they come to the solution themselves. When we give out the solution, the next time a similar problem arises, the person is in a no better space to solve the problem.
Perhaps we are being treated with more respect by extraterrestrials than we have other cultures. There may be a “hands off” policy which prevents them from landing in front of the White House, Buckingham Palace or the Kremlin and handing over the answers to our most pressing problems. Who’s to say that adopting their cultural beliefs wouldn’t derail us from a more natural evolution better suited to our species?
We Can Belong to Something Much Larger Than Ourselves
With no definitive proof of extraterrestrials and the scientific community arguing among themselves as to the existence of them, we are left with waiting for proof or having faith. In this context, it’s the faith that we are not alone, that our consciousness is expanding into something better, and that there is a larger community that we can join someday. It’s the belief that one day we’ll be invited to understand the Universe and the diverse population of beings that inhabit it.
What Can We Do Now?
On our path to enlightenment, we can open up to the thought that, while the Universe is immense, we are not alone in this neighborhood. We can keep evolving for the best and highest good, and stay open to any epiphanies that may facilitate the process. We may not have direct access to outside forces, but perhaps we get a nudge every now and then from energies that we refer to as angels, guardian spirits and power animals. We may have more contact with extraterrestrials than we know if they have cloaked their identities to protect us.
As we look up at the stars and wonder at the vastness of the Universe, consider that we may not be alone. While we look out at the cosmos, civilizations may be looking back at us, wishing us well, eager for the day when we have evolved to a level when they can extend an invitation to join a much larger Universal neighborhood.