1) The sun is incomprehensibly huge
We all know the sun is big. But this image, part of a great series on the size of astronomical objects by John Brady, underscores that it’s vast on a scale that’s simply impossible for our puny human minds to understand. We think of the Earth as a big place: flying around the equator on a 747 at top speed would take about 42 hours. Flying around the sun at the same speed, by contrast, would take about six months.
2) Even the moon is really far away
Compared with the overall vastness of space, the moon is very close to us: it’s just 238,900 or so miles away. But compared with our daily experience, absolutely everything in space is absurdly far apart. In the gap between us and the moon, you could neatly slide in all seven of the other planets — with a bit of room to spare. That includes Saturn and Jupiter, which are about nine and 11 times as wide as Earth, respectively.
3) From Mars, Earth would look like a tiny blip in the sky
If you traveled just a little ways away from Earth — say, to Mars, the second-closest planet to us — our home planet would become a tiny blip in the sky. This photo, by NASA’s Curiosity rover, was actually taken when the two planets were relatively close together: about 99 million miles away (at other times in the planets’ orbits, they can be five times farther apart).
4) What North America would look like on Jupiter
Jupiter is famous for being big. But this image, another one of John Brady’s great astronomical size comparisons, will overwhelm you with just how big. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot — a cyclone that was first spotted in 1655 — is shrinking, but it’s still many times wider than North America. Jupiter and the other gas giants are so big because their colder temperatures allowed them to hold on to lighter gases such as hydrogen and helium, which floated away from the hotter, rockier planets closer to the sun.
5) If you replaced the moon with Saturn
Another way to understand how big the gas giants are is to picture what they’d look like to us if they replaced the moon. Illustrator Ron Miller did this with a photo of a full moon over Death Valley, replacing it with each planet in turn. In this location, Saturn would blot out a large swath of the sky, and solar eclipses would last hours. (Of course, the gravitational consequences of having Saturn that close to us would also be devastating.)…