Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A lot of stars

In the Milky Way Galaxy there are 100,000,000,000 stars. The Earth's sun is one.

The nearest star to the Earth's sun, on a scale where the Earth's sun is about the size of a small coloured sweet known as a Smartie (we may use a yellow one), is 150 kms away.

Now imagine the whole Milky Way Galaxy with its 100,000,000,000 stars shrunk to the size of a Smartie. Where would next galaxy, it's called M31, be? The answer may surprise you. It will be just 13cms away. Galaxies tend to clump together. They appear to enjoy each others company.

The Milky Way Galaxy Smartie and the M31 Galaxy Smartie, sitting a mere 13cms apart from each other are part of the Local Group. The group of galaxies nearest to the Local Group is the Sculptor Group. The Sculptor Group and the Local Group are 60cms apart.

Only 3mtrs away from the Sculptor Group there is a very large group. It is spread over an area the size of a basket ball. The next big cluster of galaxies is 20mtrs away. And so it goes on. Some of the galaxy cluster are 20mtrs across. The entire known Universe would fit into a sphere 1km across.

This begs the question: What is beyond 1km or is there a beyond?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Ben Nevis Hill Race

The Ben Nevis Hill Race will take place tomorrow 5th September. A local band complete with bagpipes will give a musical salute to the 500 or so runners dashing away from the starting field in Fort William and out along the lane to the fell gate and to the rough track leading to the summit of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Having arrived at the top the runners will visit the checkpoint, have their numbers recorded, then turn around and dash all the way back down the mountainside and back along the lane to the field from whence they started.

Some 35 runners from Clayton Harriers will be amongst the particpants and, like all the other runners, they will be seen and warmly applauded by the spectators lining the track on the lower slopes.
"It matters no who wins!" or indeed is last, for it is as the old saying goes the taking part that counts.
The only opponent is the big bulky mountain and her blustery weather. Treat her with due respect. Keep a weather eye on the skies. Carry the map, the whistle, the compass, the wind/waterproof gear and some emergency rations.

Good luck to all who compete in this wonderful traditional race run in the spirit of fair and friendly competition. I'm only sorry I can't be there.