My inner city porch perch hasn’t quite allowed me to confirm it, but Uranus has been “visible to the naked eye” near our moon these last few nights. Anselm added more to chew on: Uranus is 1.82 billion miles (roughly 2.9 billion km) from the earth. (!) We’re mostly lousy holding in mind a sense of numbers on this scale (besides maybe scientists, physicists, and perhaps engineers). But to try and give some perspective, many of us might know the star nearest Earth, (AKA the sun) is 93 million miles from us. You may even recall that “the sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace” as They MIght Be Giants schooled us. Which puts Uranus about 20 times farther from the earth than we are from the sun. Sunlight, which we tend to think of as instantaneous, actually moves at 186,000 miles per second (roughly 300,000 km/second). Lastly he said: if you spot that distant planet Uranus shining like a little star near the moon, each bit of the sunlight that’s reflected off of it took 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach your eyes! Consider that!
Which of course later, as I reviewed some pix I’d shot on my evening float, had my little brain swirling back around to earth. Because this also means sun rays are not instantly “here” either. Each instant of beautfiul warm sunlight reaching us, making magical sunsets and inspiring dawns, transforming rivers into glistening evanescent pools of silver and gold, even while traveling just shy of 670,000,000 mph, still took about 8 minutes and 20 seconds to get here! And I’m delighted to take the time to notice.