Making the Jump to Light Speed

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Chapter 1 of Astronomy: The Solar System served as a HUGE (seriously though) reminder as to how small and insignificant we are, and how very very very infinitesimally small the corner of the universe we’ve explored actually is. I’m a big Star Wars fan, and looking at that world from the perspective of astronomy class, it doesn’t  actually make much sense at all (although this will not affect my love for it). For instance, if we were able to travel at light speed, we would be able to get to the moon in about one second. That seems pretty quick, right? But at that same speed it would take us a whole year to reach the outer planets. A whole year, and we’d still be in our own solar system! Han Solo whips the Millennium Falcon around the entire GALAXY like it’s nothing. This obviously isn’t feasible at all, which doesn’t bother me too much in the context of Star Wars, but does make me a little bit sad/skeptical about the future of deep space exploration. At the rate of light speed, we won’t be exploring anything outside of our solar system in my lifetime – and that’s if we could learn to move at light speed, which also seems unlikely. I’m not trying to be a downer – we definitely have a ton of cool things close by to explore and discover. I’ll just have to settle for some imagination when it comes to the deep-space exploration (for now).

4 thoughts on “Making the Jump to Light Speed

  1. I like your scifi connection to very real space travel, but our speed limitations definitely don’t stop us from exploring our solar system and beyond. Take a look at the Voyager blog posts and the incredible speeds it has obtained over its 40 year plus life span. We may not have light speed, but we could have a fleet of blazing fast satellites out past the solar system in the next 50 years.

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  2. While we may never be able to make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, I still have hope for the future of space exploration! With the amount of amazing places right in our own solar backyard we will have our hands full for decades to come. And perhaps while we spend the next century planting Earth flags on the rest of our neighbors, propulsion research and life support development could have a major breakthrough in the realm of interstellar travel. You’re right that we’ll all probably be long gone by then (unless carbonite freezing becomes more affordable), but we shouldn’t lose hope yet!

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  3. I liked your upbeat response to a pretty big bummer of a discovery; I know when I think about how even speed-of-light-travel doesn’t give us the kind of access to the universe we seek, I get bummed out. However, in a different way, it also means that there must be other ways of traveling though space beyond our normal conception of a linear trip! I am so glad so many creative minds out there are so dedicated to finding new ways to travel through space!

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  4. Hey from your grader! Yes, it is mind-boggling to think that even if we could travel at the speed of light it would take millions of years to visit our next-door neighbor Andromeda!

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