Lesson 4: Cosmological Scales

In the following scenes, examples are given of how movies portray planetary, solar system, galactic and cosmological distance scales.  In the first four scenes, examples are given for the students to consider.  In the last four scenes (5-8), students are to match which distance scale correspond to each scene.

Scene 1

In the following clips, we see a demonstration of scale.  We can compare the scale of a planet to the scale of a solar system, to the scale of a galaxy, and finally to the scale of the distances between galaxies. In particular, we can compare the scale of the Earth to the size of a solar system to the size of the Milky Way.

BSG:  Season 3:  Episode 19:  Earth MW    http://vimeo.com/98223705

Scene 2

In the following scene, the movie maker tries to give some sense of scale of a star compared to a planet and the distances between stars and planets in solar systems.  It is not an easy task and it is difficult to tell that a typical star is MUCH larger than a rocky terrestrial type of planet.  But what is clear is that distances between a star and its planets are so large that even when a star explodes in a solar system, it takes time for the explosion to reach local planets.

BSG:  Season 3:  Episode 11:  nova scene. http://vimeo.com/98223699


Scene 3

In this scene, the enterprise is supposed to be warping away.  The writers of Star Trek have used space warps as a means to surmount the enormous distances between stars and planets.

Star Trek TNG:  Season 1: E 17 opening – warped enterprise   http://vimeo.com/98224155

Scene 4

In the following clip we can see the movie maker’s idea of how to traverse large distances.  In this clip, the movie maker uses a “worm hole” to make travel over such long distance scales feasible within just a few moments.

Contact:  Worm hole:  Vega, stellar clusters visible. http://vimeo.com/98223846

In the following clips, we see a demonstration of scale.  We can compare the scale of a planet to the scale of a solar system, to the scale of a galaxy, and finally to the scale of the distances between galaxies.

Match – SGU:  Season 1: Episode 5.  Skimming star scene http://vimeo.com/98224153

Match – DS9 intro Wolf 359:  http://vimeo.com/103281253

Match SG Atlantis:  Season 3, Episode 10 Bridge Light Speed   http://vimeo.com/98224152

Match –   Contact: opening scene   http://vimeo.com/98223845