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Home page > Design in the Space > Distances Between Cosmic Objects

Design in the Space

As we know, our Planet Earth is part of a solar system of nine planets, the Earth being the third planet

orbiting our medium sized star.

First, let's understand the scale of this system. The Sun's diameter is 103 times the Earth's. To enable a comparison, image the Earth (whose true diameter is 12,200 kilometers, or 7,500 miles) as the size of a marble. In comparison, our Sun would be a sphere twice the size of a football. But what is really interesting is the distance between the two. On this scale, it would be 280 meters (920 feet). Planets at the outer reaches of the system would be many kilometers away from the sphere representing the Sun.

Yet the solar system's huge size is actually modest when placed in context with the rest of our Milky Way Galaxy. It contains an estimated 250 billion stars (or suns), the nearest of which is Alpha Centauri. If Earth and Sun are 280 meters (920 feet) apart, as in the above example, then on the same scale, Alpha Centauri would be a whopping 78,000 kilometers (48,500 miles) away.

If we consider the Earth as the size of a marble, and the distance between it and the Sun as 280 meters (920 feet), then the star Alpha Centauri should be placed 78,000 kilometers (48,500 miles) away!

Let's shrink this scale down until the Earth becomes a dust particle barely visible to the naked eye. The Sun would then be the size of a walnut, three meters away from the Earth. On this new scale, Alpha Centauri would be 640 kilometers (400 miles) away. Yet the Milky Way Galaxy consists of 250 billion stars with even more phenomenal distances in between them. Our solar system is a mere speck in this spiral galaxy.

The Milky Way itself covers a relatively minute area within the universe, when we consider there are approximately 300 billion other such galaxies besides it, and that the distances between them are millions of times greater than between our Sun and Alpha Centauri.

The diffusion of heavenly objects throughout the universe and the spaces between them are necessary conditions for life on Earth. The distances between stars are arranged by cosmic forces in such a way as to make possible life on Earth. These distances have a direct effect on planets' orbits and even their very existence. Were they any closer, gravitational attraction between stars would destabilize the planets' orbits, causing extreme fluctuation in temperatures. Had they been any farther, the distribution of heavier elements, shooting into space from supernovas, would have never reached the density required to form planets like our solid Earth.

The existing distances between stars are just right to permit the existence of solar systems like ours.

Michael Denton, a renowned Professor of Biochemistry, writes in his book Nature's Destiny :

  The distances between supernovae and indeed between all stars is critical for other reasons. The distance between stars in our galaxy is about 30 million miles. If this distance was much less, planetary orbits would be destabilized. If it was much more, then the debris thrown out by a supernova would be so diffusely distributed that planetary systems like our own would in all probability never form. If the cosmos is to be a home for life, then the flickering of the supernovae must occur at a very precise rate and the average distance between them, and indeed between all stars, must be very close to the actual observed figure. (1)

In The Symbiotic Universe, astronomer George Greenstein writes about these mind-boggling distances:

  Had the stars been somewhat closer, astrophysics would not have been so very different. The fundamental physical processes occurring within stars, nebulas, and the like would have proceeded unchanged. The appearance of our galaxy as seen from some far-distant vantage point would have been the same. About the only difference would have been the view of the night time sky from the grass on which I lie, which would have been yet richer with stars. And oh, yes-one more small change: There would have been no me to do the viewing…All that waster space! On the other hand, in this very waste lies our safety. (2)

In the vast depths of space, our Earth occupies no more room than a grain of sand on a beach. The universe is too large for human minds to comprehend. Bodies in space have been created at the ideal distances from one another. In our galaxy, the slightest increase or reduction in the average distances between heavenly bodies would mean that no planet would exist that is suitable for life.

The universe's vast empty spaces, Greenstein explains, determine the value of physical variables that make human life on Earth possible and also prevent the Earth from colliding with other cosmic objects traveling through the universe.

In short, the distribution of stars in the universe is exactly as they must be for human existence on Earth. The vast empty spaces are not coincidental-they were created.


(1) Michael Denton, Nature's Destiny, The New York: The Free Press, 1998, p. 11.
( 2) George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe, New York: William Morrow, 1998, p. 21, emphasis added.

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