Light is fast! In a recent series of animations, planetary scientist James O’Donoghue demonstrates just how fast light is…and also how far away even our closest celestial neighbors are. Light, moving at 186,000 mi/sec, can circle the Earth 7.5 times per second and here’s what that looks like:
It can also travel from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Moon in ~1.3 seconds, like so:
That seems both really fast and not that fast somehow. Now check out light traveling the 34 million miles to Mars in a pokey 3 minutes:
And Mars is close! If O’Donoghue made a real-time animation of light traveling to Pluto, the video would last over 5 hours. The animation for the closest undisputed galaxy, Seque 1, would last 75,000 years and 2.5 million years for the Andromeda galaxy animation. The farthest-known objects from Earth are more than 13 billion light years away. Light is slow!
See also The Leisurely Pace of Light Speed.Tags: astronomy James O’Donoghue light physics science space video