How far is a long way?
How far does light travel in a second? Well, imagine the following:
If I'm standing in London, England, with a torch (a large, bright one, along with several mirrors to bend
light around the earth - it's all a bit hypothetical!), how far away would you have to stand from me, to
be able to count one second from when I switch it on, to the point where the light reaches you?
Where would you be? Italy? America? Australia? No, you would have to be approx. 78% of the way
to the moon ! You would need to be 186,000 miles away. That is how far light travels in a second.
The Moon is approximately 240,000 miles away (average centre to centre orbit).
The Sun is 93 million miles away - which is difficult to get your head around. The light from the Sun
takes more than 8 minutes to reach the Earth.
Because the Universe is so massive, units of meters or miles aren't very helpful. Either Astronomical
Units (1 AU = the distance from the Earth to the Sun) or light years are used. A light year is the
distance that light travels in one year, at a speed of 186,000 miles per second. This works out to be
5.88 trillion miles! That is 5,880,000,000,000 miles, which means that light could travel from the Sun
to the Earth and back again more than 30,000 times in a year.
Voyager 1 (see right) is a 722-kilogram space probe that was launched September 5, 1977. One of
the most significant photos from the probe is called the
Pale Blue Dot, which is an image of the
Earth. On April 12th 2010, Voyager 1 was about 113 AU (17 billion km, or 10.5 billion miles) or
0.0018 light years from the Sun. Which makes it the furthest man-made object from Earth - but really
it's not very far away at all ...
So, the distance from the Earth to the Sun is a long way, isn't it?
93 million miles is only 0.000016 light years.
The next nearest star is Proxima Centauri, which is 4.2 light years away.
However, this is just around the corner compared to the edge of the observable universe, which is
46.5 billion light years away.
That's 273 sextillion miles, which is 273,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles!
Psalm 103:11 "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear
That's astronomical love !