I’ve come to realize how truly insignificant — because of their instability, tendency to produce conflict, and mercurial nature — most of the religious, political, and social ballyhoo is, compared to the science of our planet, solar system, and galaxy. Squabbling over borders and domains truly is rubbish, when we glance at our global “home”. And considering what “Wired” concluded, only about 24 humans have actually seen the entire earth from space with their own eyes, we could grow a lot by attuning ourselves to our spatial placement.
It’s especially easy to be keen on global awareness on “earth day”, but we should develop not just a year-long reverence for our planet, but a perpetual fascination with our entire placement in galactic space.
If, say, you want to give the “Full Universal Address” (the FUA of yourself and you, for example, are located in Santa Monica, you really shouldn’t stop after the “Country”. After all, what if there’s another Santa Monica, CA, United States located on some other planet in a totally different and distinct solar system, in a completely different galaxy, and galaxy cluster! So, really, you should say this:
(Update July 2011: Very grateful to not be in the CA state, but dont’ mean being on earth!)
City — Santa Monica
State — CA
Zip – 90401
Country – United States
Hemisphere – Western Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere
Planet – Earth
Solar System – ‘Our Solar System’
Galactic Vicinity Within Our Galaxy — Orion’s Arm
Galaxy -Milky Way (Nearest neighboring galaxy = Messier 31, Andromeda)
Mini (dozens) Galaxy Cluster — Local Group
Larger (thousands) Galaxy Cluster — Virgo Supercluster
1. Does “our solar system” have any more of a scientific name than “our solar sytem”?
It really sounds lame, but “no”.
2. What is the name (if any ) of our globular cluster and distance from galactic center within the Milky Way?
We are located not in a surrounding satellite globular cluster but actual within the MilkWay disk, 28,000 light years away from the galactic center. Considering that we are located 2.3 ly away from Andromeda galaxy, the nearest galaxy hovers 27,997.7 ly closer (or 12,173.9 times closer) than our own MilkayWay galactic center!
Here’s a great site on galactic centers, nearby galaxies and the like.
3. Finally, I’ve been doing research to make this more complete and ran into Messier objects (to advanced astronomers I’m sure they’re familiar, but they were fairly new to me). Does the Local Group and/or Virgo Cluster have some more scientific-sounding Messier Group name? “local group” and “virgo cluser” (not unlike “our solar system”)?
Again, it sounds incredibly lame and informal, but our galaxy cluster is the Local Group and the super galaxy cluster is the Virgo Supercluster.
4. Finally, can this be expanded out any more? Are their “quadrants” of the universe or something in which the Virgo Cluster would be located?
It seems like there should be universal quadrants but superclusters is about all we have now. See an awesome image of the spatial rending of the entire visible universe at THE site for spatial universe zooming (at increments of x10), Atlas-of-the-Universe.