Did you stay up to watch it?
Anyone who was up at around 2 or 3 am this Monday morning might have seen a rare astronomical event. Lunar eclipses happen at least once or twice a year, but this one was unusual because it happened when the moon appeared larger and brighter than at any other point in the month. The next ‘supermoon’ eclipse is due in 2033.
The moon’s orbit around the earth is elliptical, so its apparent size changes throughout the month.
But how far away is the moon?
One way to connect more personally with astronomical scales is to consider the total amount of DNA in our bodies. Each of our cells contains two metres of this molecule, coiled up very tightly. If we took all the DNA out of every cell, unrolled it and added it end to end, how far would it reach?
The average adult has about 50 trillion (50,000,000,000,000) cells in his or her body. Multiplied by two metres, that makes around 0.1 trillion kilometres of DNA, which is immense compared to the distance to the moon.
The sun is around 150 million kilometres from earth, so our DNA would take us there and back more than 300 times.
Pluto is 50 times further away, and we could take the round trip at least six times.
And all that is inside you and me!!
As a poet of old wrote in the Bible “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know ” (Psalm 139:14)