The Milky Way
Tonight, when the sun goes down, look up. Depending on how dark it is outside, you can probably see several thousand stars up there, all of which come from our own galaxy, the Milky Way. If you look a bit closer though, you might be able to spot one of only a few galaxies other than our own that is visible with the naked eye.
If this makes you feel small, it should, because scientists estimate that there are hundreds of billions more galaxies in the universe, none of which you can see without a telescope. Moreover, each one of these galaxies has billions of stars, which brings the estimated grand total number of stars in the universe to 10 billion trillion. That’s more stars than the number of grains of sand on the Earth.
All the stars, galaxies, and black holes in the universe only compose about 5% of its mass. As crazy as it sounds, the other 95% is unaccounted for. Scientists decided to label this mystery material “dark matter.” To this day, they are still not sure where or what it is.
The Alcoholic Space Cloud
For those of you considering opening your own pubs, there is probably no place better than Sagittarius B. Although it is 26,000 light years away, this interstellar cloud of gas and dust contains over a billion billion billion liters of vinyl alcohol. Okay, so it’s not really drinkable, but it’s a very important organic compound that is critical to the existence of life.
Nuking the Moon
In the late 1950′s, by way of something labeled Project A119, the United States decided it would be a good idea to launch a nuclear missile at the moon. Why? Evidently, they felt it would give them a leg up in the Space Race. Fortunately, however, the plan was never executed.