Today was a beautiful day and I was out by the river the first time this year with my Lapsteel playing. Looking at the water, this old movie «Power of ten» (YouTube video, 9 min.) from 1977 came to my mind. Read the details on wikipedia.
Well, this is now 30 years old, so I did some googling and found some more interesting, newer things. First, there’s a newer version of something similar: the Cosmic Voyage (YouTube, 4 min.) from 1996. This is unfortunately only the part of the journey similar to the former Power of Ten, I couldn’t find the whole movie, which is also described on Wikipedia.
There’s also a very interesting dissertation from astrophysicist Mike Norman on Google video (56 min). He takes you on an unprecedented journey across space and time to witness the formation of galaxies and cosmic structure as well as the formation of one of the first stars to shine in the universe.
His dissertation features also this by far the best animated virtual journey (YouTube, ca. 4 min.), calculated with accurate data from the actual cosmic science. So it’s up to date with data and computer rendering technique. Here are some screenshots (click for bigger versions, threy’re the best resolution I could get):
Then we will pass through the galaxy M-33 (right) towards the giant Andromeda galaxy with the blue outskirts (top left). In the middle another star forming Nebula in M-33, like the Orion Nebula, but much larger. We’re about 1 million light-years away from home.
What looks like a couple of stars is actually the Virgo Cluster, about 28 mio light-years away, our local cluster of galaxies. Each white dot is a whole galaxy and the destination of this animated journey.
So, finally, if you look at the sky next time, try to imagine the 28 million light-years distance to our nearest galaxy cluster, which is only one of all them out there…