A Star is Born

With a unique blend of science and humour, American naturalist and science educator Milos Radakovich is an extremely popular cruise ship lecturer.

He has written two volumes full of what he calls “Bite-size SCIENCE snacks” called 90 SECONDS. These articles were written to be delivered as 90 second radio spots. I have read and reread all many times.

If you are interested in ordering a copy or for more information e-mail Milos at milos@mbay.net

A STAR is BORN

Starlight, star bright, the first star I see tonight…..To be sure, some things we see in the night sky are planets, asteroids, or even distant galaxies, but by far, most are stars.

To the naked eye, stars appear to be solitary. On closer inspection however, we see that many, if not most, live in families, with one or more companion stars. Together, they live in giant assemblages we call galaxies, composed of hundreds of billions of stars. Our Milky Way, with half a trillion stars, is just such a galaxy.

The number of stars in the universe is truly astronomical. If stars were grains of sand, the stars we can see with the naked eye on a dark night could fill a shoe box. To contain all the stars of our own Milky Way galaxy would require a volume the size of an Olympic-size swimming pool. Imagine all the sand on your favourite beach, including the bars and dunes. Think about the number of beaches along the shores of California, Florida, Mexico, South America, Australia.

Now think about this: there are more stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand on all the beaches and deserts on earth. Wow!

And speaking of families: we always suspected that other stars are orbited by planets, yet it has only been in the last few decades that we have been able to confirm it. As of 2011, astronomers have found nearly 200 extrasolar planets, in every corner of the sky.

If only a tiny fraction of those have any kind of life, there would be millions of inhabited planets just in our own galaxy.

So in the immortal words of carl Sagan: “If it is only us, what a waste of space.”

star

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