NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI)
A multiplicity of galaxies that were revealed over the course of multiple exposures by the Hubble Telescope.

Mother Earth in Perspective: Humbling Photos of the Vastness of the Universe Hit Home


Amid the fighting, beheading, disease outbreaks and more, one would think that we suffering humanoids were all that was happening in the universe.

Here to disavow us of that notion is the universe itself, at least what can be seen of it via our paltry senses and scientific instruments. This set of photos was predicated on the famous galaxy-cluster shot from the Hubble telescope released by NASA earlier this year. The image “is a composite of separate exposures taken from 2003 to 2012,” according to the European Space Agency/NASA press release in sharing the photo back in June.

The full set has been making the Internet rounds, the photos uncredited but the scale credible. This is one of those cases in which a picture speaks a thousand words, or in this case stars—try hundreds of thousands.

The planet we’re on, and the conflicts and heartbreaks we’re embroiled in, seem so large, immutable and solid. But as these photos show, that is more an illusion than a fact.

The series starts out innocently enough with a photo of a giant-looking Earth, then pairs it with the moon, which still makes us look pretty impressive. 

But the next few shots put us next to the other planets—first our neighbors that are about our size, then with the gas giants of the outer solar system, and then, of course, with the sun. 

But wait—there’s more.  The sun, that ginormous orb, is dwarfed by the star Sirius. Which is in turn dwarfed by Pollux, which is miniscule next to Arcturus. Daunting doesn’t even begin to describe it. But there are a few more stars to go—and then come the galaxies.

RELATED: Let’s Get ‘Sirius’ About the Dog Star, Sky’s Brightest Twinkler

Don’t forget—we are made of this stuff. We are but specks of stardust.

RELATED: Alien Atoms: Milky Way Stardust Detected in Solar System

The awe-inspiring perspective really must be seen to be believed. 

Go to the full photo gallery at Earth in True Perspective.

RELATED: Renewing Awe and Gratitude With a Trip to the Edge of the Universe

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