the universe

….There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing — for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean. There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmon knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths. But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars. This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.
—   Jerry Waxman

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This is his answer.

Did you know, that your boldest dreams today, like a car and when you be happy and get into university, will one day just be memories that make you smile, like learning to read, riding a bike, and Hula-Hooping.
—  The Universe
A Mega Galaxy 50 Xs Size of the Milky Way

The image above shows IC 1101, a supergiant elliptical galaxy of approximately 6 million light-years across, which makes it the largest known galaxy discovered to date. It lies about 1.07 billion light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin), and is made up of more than 100 trillion stars (for comparison, our Milky Way has about 300 billion stars), this galaxy is the extremely bright object at the center of Abell 2029, a massive cluster of thousands of galaxies. Being one of the most luminous galaxies ever seen, IC 1101 emits more than one quarter of the total light from this galaxy cluster.

IC 1101 is more than 50 times the size of the Milky Way (which is some 100,000–120,000 light-years across) and 2,000 times as massive. If it were in place of the Milky Way galaxy, it would swallow up the Magellanic Clouds, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Triangulum Galaxy. IC 1101 owes its size to many collisions of smaller galaxies about the size of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. As expected, the huge galaxy is giving birth to very few new stars. Unless it continues to collide and join with other younger galaxies, IC 1101 will eventually fade away.

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Petty Earth Minds

“From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”

— Edgar Mitchel, Apollo 14 astronaut, speaking in People magazine on 8 April 1974.

(Russian astronaut’s picture of the super moon)

I don’t quite know if it’s the way your mind works, or your emotional sensitivity. I don’t know if it’s the way you laugh, or the way you cry. Could be your tenacity and courage. Or maybe it’s your wit and spontaneity. Truth is there’s never been anyone like you, so it’s hard to tell. But whatever it is, to me, from here, right now, you sure improve the view.
—  The Universe