Ep. 10: Measuring Distance in the Universe

Astronomy, Physics | 5 comments

You hear distances all the time in astronomy. This star is 10 light-years away; that galaxy is 50 million light-years away; that Big Bang over there happened 13.7 billion years ago. But how did astronomers actually figure out how far away everything is? It’s not a single measuring stick. Instead, astronomers have built up a series of overlapping measuring tools (yes, we’re calling supernovae and variable stars “tools”), which take us from right around the corner to very ends of the Universe. Get out your ruler… no, the bigger one… never mind… just listen.

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    1. Brady Norton


    2. dyh


    3. Manfred

      Hi – I’ve just learnt about this site, and as a budding (though somewhat aging) amateur astromomer have just started going through your pod casts. It looks like you’ve put together some great material here, so thanks and please do keep it up!!

    4. Larry Peeden

      Growing up, Carl Sagen was my idol. Trust me I am just as fascinated and informed about the universe as any amature astronomer should be. The fundamental questions, who are we? Where did we come from? Is there life out there? I am inclined to believe that it is up to us to migrate throughout the universe. Everything has a beginning thus, is it so hard to conceive that our beautiful Earth is the true origin of life? I truly hoped this question would be answered in my lifetime. I believe Steven Hawking hit on something when he addressed the existence of god. We have all been given the gift of life. What we do with this life defines who we are. It’s a one way trip and once it’s over, it’s over.

      • Ryan Vick

        therefore, go surfing. and travel to distance planets. sounds good to me. find a girlfriend along the way too.


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