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The Size Of Our World or How Insignificant the Earth Really Is in the Universe

x033Compared to you and me, the Earth is really big. But compared to Jupiter and the Sun, the Earth is pretty tiny. There are many ways we can measure the size of the Earth. Let's look at how big the Earth is, and then compare it to other objects in the Solar System. The diameter of the Earth is 12,742 km. In other words, if you dug a hole down into the Earth, passed through the center of the Earth, and came out the other side, you would have dug a hole 12,742 km deep (on average). That's about 4 times longer than the diameter of the Moon.

The circumference of the Earth is 40,041 km. Again, if you wanted to drive all the way around the Earth, you would put this much additional mileage on your odometer. For comparison, the circumference of Mars is 21,377 km, so Earth is twice as big. Need more? How about the surface area. The surface area of the Earth is 510 million square km; 29% land and 71% water. Interestingly, the surface area of Mars is 144 million square km, which is almost exactly the same amount as the land surface area of Earth. Let's keep going. The volume of Earth is 1.08 trillion cubic kilometers. That's a pretty huge number, so here's the long version: 1,080,000,000,000 km3.

Finally, the mass of the Earth is 5.97 x 1024 kg. That's a number so big, with so many zeroes, that even if you saw it all printed out you wouldn't be able to get a handle on it. So, some comparisons are in order. The mass of the Earth is 83 times the mass of the Moon, and 9 times more massive than Mars. Of course, Jupiter is 318 times more massive than Earth, so we're pretty tiny in comparison.

You probably know by now that we're no match for our Sun. Now, the figures get complicated. The fact that the Earth and other matter, including other planets, asteroids, meteoroids, comets and dust, make up for 0.2 percent of the mass of the entire system is kind of scary and trying to express the size of the size is an even greater challenge: the diameter of the Sun is 109 times larger than Earth's, making us look like a spot on its surface. What the heck, even some sunspots are larger than our not-so-big-anymore planet.

If you thought our Sun was big, you're wrong. It's just a medium-sized star. Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also!
Let's take Sirius, for instance. The brightest star in the night-time sky, located in the constellation Canis Major, it can be seen from almost every inhabited region of the Earth's surface. Any clues on how large it is? The white dwarf is half the mass of the Sun packed into a volume roughly equal to the Earth.

That's something to smile about, we're about the same size as dwarf star. Hooray! Now, if we look at Pollux, another of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky, our enthusiasm suddenly wears off. Its diameter is 16 times that of our Sun, so there's no point in mentioning that of the Earth.

Now, let's go to some really heavy stuff: Arcturus, the third brightest star in the night sky, located in the constellation Bo tes, is a red giant star, at least 110 times brighter than the Sun and 32 times larger in diameter.

Entering the heavyweight class of the known Universe, I present you Betelgeuse, the second brightest star in the constellation Orion, a red supergiant and one of the largest known to man. If we replaced the Sun with Betelgeuse, its outer surface would be somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. Is that big enough for you?


No? All right then. Here's the Titanic of all stars, a class M supergiant star. 10,000 times more luminous than our Sun, it is also almost 18 times its mass. The diameter is truly impressive: 1,400 times that of our Sun, which makes the Earth look like a flea on its surface. That's how small we really are.







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