Monday, May 27, 2013

The Galaxy song with added uncertainties

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you’ve had quite enough.

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine ten hundred and thirty seven miles an hour
That’s orbiting at nineteen eighteen point five miles a second, so it’s reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power.

The sun and you and me and all the stars that you can see
Are moving at a eleven point eight million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm at forty four hundred and ninety thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the Milky Way.

Our galaxy itself contains a two to four hundred billion stars
It’s a hundred to a hundred and twenty thousand light years side to side
It bulges in the middle fifteen to sixteen thousand light years thick
But out by us it’s just nine hundred to three thousand light years wide.

We’re twenty six to thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
We go ‘round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only on of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, the speed of light you know
Twelve Eleven million miles a minute and that’s the fastest speed there is.

So remember when you’re feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space
‘cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

Taking a look at this I think we can all agree that Eric Idle is a genius; making a memorable and accurate (to within an order of magnitude) song about our galaxy adding his own special flare of comedy to a fantastic amount of information contained within its facts.  

In places I have been pedantic, in others I have added the uncertainty range that we have deduced. It is amazing how little we actually know about our own galaxy but this song is a great place to start to bring the picture together.

What’s next?

Check out some of these links for the numbers we know about our galaxy.
Monitoring stellar orbits around the Massive Black Hole in the Galactic center -