Thought of the Day - Galactic Thoughts
The Milky Way, in which the Earth and our solar system reside, is about 100,000 light-years across and a 1,000 light-years thick.
A light-year is a relative scale of measurement, comparative to how far light travels in a year (in one second it travels 186,000 alone).
If the distance from the sun to Pluto was reduced to the size of a UK 10 pence piece (1 inch / 2.5 cm), the Milky Way would be the size of France.
The Milky Way contains between 200-400 billion stars. By comparison the next nearest spiral galaxy to us, the Andromedia Galaxy (2.5 million light-years away), contains 1 trillion stars.
Our Solar System is located halfway out from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, on the inner edge of the Orion-Cygnus Arm. Our sun orbits around the center of the galaxy once every 225-250 million years (called a Galactic or Cosmic Year).
The closest star system to Earth is the Alpha Centauri system. It lies about 4.37 light-years from us, or 25,689,592,880,812 miles (25.6 trillion miles)... give or take a few!