Happy Forthcoming Turn of the Year

From all of us at The Experimenter Publishing Company LLC and Amazing Stories, we hope you are with those important to you, are safe and sound as our planetary home experiences its greatest tilt away from the Sun in the Northern hemisphere and its greatest tilt towards the Sun in its Southern hemisphere, events otherwise known as the Winter and Summer Soltices, respectively.

If our home planet did not have an axial tilt of (currently) 23.5 degrees, there’d be no “longest/shortest day of the year”, though there would still be weather of a sort owing to our eliptical, rather than circular orbit.

Right now, we’re approaching our orbital periapsis, our closest approach to the sun in our annual orbit. Odd that in the nortern hemisphere we experience our coldest weather while being closest to the sun. You can thank axial tilt for that. If you’re south of the equator, you can chalk your hotter summers up to the same cause.

Just so you all have some idea, here’s a screen capture of our location from the Fourmilab Solar System Live online Orrery:

Personally, I think this time of year is a good time to pause and reflect on the year past and the year to come.  I also find that it helps to remember one’s place in the grand scheme of things while doing so:

Above, you can see where the Earth is.  Below, a couple of images of our solar system’s location in our galaxy:

and if that didn’t put things in perspective, here’s a depiction of our galaxy’s place in the Local Group:

and to complete the picture, a depiction of the distribution of galaxies in our universe:

That image shows galactic clusters(!) and the filaments of gasses and dark matter between them.  It’s a computer simulation of a small portion of the underlying structure of the universe.

In the greater scheme of things, our galaxy, let alone our solar system, our planet and us humans, are indistinguishable.  Yet our aspirations are so grand that we continually look up and out, trying to understand it all, believing, collectively, that some day we may.

It’s hubris on a universal scale.  It’s also spirit, and hope and a belief that we have a future.

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