Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year everyone!

I am back after a longish Christmas break with grandchildren and great grandchildren, well ‘great grandchild’ singular.
An enjoyable time, but getting a little time to one’s self for more than a few minutes at a stretch is not always easy. Not without burning the midnight oil and anyway, much of that is taken up with chatting, TV viewing ‘essential’ Christmas TV and movies and playing the new board games distributed amongst the family’s presents, so a busy time all round with no time to blog. We also went to the local Panto, to see Little Red Riding Hood.
So here we are back in January again with the new number 2013 to signify the next twelve months on our calendar. The Earth has made one more circuit of the sun and we are, you may think, back in the same place we were last January.
 Of course in actual fact we are nowhere near the same place, having travelled somewhere in the region of a staggering 22 billion km, or if you prefer, 13.7 billion miles during 2012. 

The sun is moving along with the rest of the galaxy (the Milky Way) and all the closest group of galaxies around us, lickety-split in the direction of the constellations Hydra and Centaurus. We are not travelling towards them, they just happen to be on that side of our local sky in the direction we are moving. This mega collection of galaxies, stars and planets we belong to are falling towards an even bigger collection of stars and galaxies, somewhere beyond the Virgo cluster, sometimes known as the Great Attractor because of the powerful gravitational pull it exerts on everything around it, including us. 
Do not worry, it will be billions of years before we arrive even at the Virgo cluster. Almost certainly the Earth will have ceased to exist, long before then, let alone the ephemeral species of anthropoid we call mankind who have inhabited this planet for only a tiny fraction of time so far.

So happy New Year and may we all travel in peace for a change, after all, the universe is a big and extremely hostile place and we really ought to be working together for our continued future, not squabbling amongst ourselves over issues that become completely insignificant when set against the backdrop of the awe inspiring and unimaginably vast universe we live in.


  1. And a happy new year to you too. Welcome back!

  2. Good perspective, Snafu. I figured you were taking a holiday break.

  3. You must have wondered why I wasn't commenting. Ipads are wonderful, but for some reason, when it comes to blogs (i am discovering), it doesn't take us to the most recent posting, but to the last one viewed. So all this time I thought you were still recovering from Christmas! Anyway, thanks for the great astronomical lesson....very interesting, and yes our universe is really awesome!