Like Queen’s Brian May, I studied Astronomy at university for a year before going on to become a world famous rock musician.
I did have to give up the astromony though, as the lecturers tended to shun the gazing through telescopes stuff, and instead favoured makng us do fiendish mathematics to convert things like the sidereal day into other things like the solar day. Both of these things are extremely confusing, and trying to make them do anything at all, let alone turn into each other, made my brain very unhappy.
Despite that, my passion for ‘space stuff’ remains undimmed (like a main sequence star), and I was really excited by a thought experiment a recent Wired article about solar eclipses (can’t find the link now due to Wired’s terrible web design. Never mind publishing a UK version of the magazine you lot, sort your flipping mess of a website out.)
Anyway, try this out: When you’re looking at the sun, realise that you’re not looking up at it. No. Not up, not at all. When you look at the sun, what you’re actually doing is staring 93 million miles down into the centre of the gravity well we call the solar system. Yes! Try that one on for size! Look at the sun and realise just what a vast distance of space you’re looking down into, and how that distance describes the radius of the earth’s orbit around it.
Does it for me, anyway! Here’s a pic of the sun during a solar eclipse, and you can really let your imagination go wild. I give you permission.