Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Are You Awful Or Are You Awesome?

 This is a thumbnail of Earth, compared in size to smaller planets. Click it, and the ones that follow, to see photos that will show each in larger format, then back-click to return. I do not wish to be planet-centric, but I think we have the prettiest planet of all. (Laugh, if you wish, but you must admit it is true.)

 Compared with the larger planets in our solar system, Earth is very, very small.


Now we see the comparative size of the bright star we call the Sun!

Our Sun, which drawfs Earth. Aren't you glad it is far away?

Our placement has been compared to Goldilocks and the porridge. Any closer to the sun and we would be too hot, any further away and we would be too cold. As it is, we’re just right. Most of the time. 

As big as the sun is, it is tiny compared to the giant star, Arcturus–and Earth is less than a speck.
Super telescopes, including the Hubble telescope are responsible for letting us know about many of these gargantuans in the Universe. Arcturus, which makes our sun look tiny in comparison. Earth is invisible.

Arcturus, which makes our sun look tiny in comparison. Earth is invisible.Here is Antares, a red giant star that makes Arcturus look teeny-tiny. Our sun is miniscule compared to it, and the size of Earth in comparison is infinitesimal.

I also want you to see a video that shows all of it in a visually fascinating way–and with music! The video loops and plays again, so you can stop it after the image that shows the dot of our sun in relation to the largest known star, VY Canis Majoris. (The Big Dog!) But, that last image alone is enough to put it all in perspective! Click here to watch the video –maybe twice–and come back when you are done.

Another approximate way to visualize it: If someone held a 4′ diameter beach ball and you walked a block away and held up a marble, those would be the sun and Earth. To visualize VY Canis Majoris–if it were close enough to see–picture a solid wall of gaseous material over an iron core, high in the sky, like a ceiling that has no beginning or end. On the marble in your hand put 6.5 billion microscopic dots. One of them is you–the one you sometimes think this is all about.

What I am leading to with this amateur version of a lesson in Astronomy:

1. I almost never use the word awesome because it is so overused in some circles it has become devalued. If everything that is simply good or even impressive becomes awesome there is nothing left to describe what is truly worthy of awe–so I like to reserve the word for when it fits. It fits the universe in which we reside. It is awesome.

2. If we compare the relative sizes and placement of planets, stars and life forms, you and I are nothing. However, in the world in which we live we are of vital significance to many. It may be that to someone you are everything.

VY Canis Majoris has no power to show love or make life better for anyone–you do. It will not be remembered as having made one day, or one hour, or one moment special in anyone’s life–you can  do that. You can also do the reverse. In your world, both in your work and with your family and friends, you can be awful or you can be awesome.

I frequently have my own version of vespers by standing outside for a few moments before bedtime to appreciate the beauty and vastness of the very small part of the universe I can see. I was already impressed, but I will see it differently now. The next time you are outside at night, take a moment to get a mental picture of you, on the surface of a tiny marble rotating in an awesome universe. Wave, just in case ET is watching. Then, commit to making VY Canis Majoris look like a dinky little nothing compared to what you will accomplish in the minds, hearts and lives of others.

March 28th, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 5 comments