The Galaxy Song

2008-12-09: If you're coming here from the excellent Carnival of Space 82 I'd just like to point out that I'm not Stuart Atkinson who is lucky enough to live up north of me in the beautiful Cumbria. You can tell the difference because he looks like this.

And now for something slightly different. One of my favourite Monty Python songs of all time is the Galaxy Song. It occurs near the end of the film The Meaning of Life with a pink-suited Eric Idle climbing out of a kitchen fridge. He then leads Mrs Brown - a hair roller clad lady whose husband is donating his organs - into space and gives her a tour of the universe to demonstrate how utterly insignificant we are compared to the enormity of space.

What I find so brilliant about the Galaxy Song is that, not only does it make our insignificance sound so cheery, it contains a huge number of astronomical numbers that are good enough for back-of-the-envelope calculations. In fact, the figures used are close enough to accepted values that as an undergraduate I used them in order-of-magnitude calculations all the time. Even today I still replay the song in my head to remind me of the rough diameter of our galaxy, the orbital speed of the Earth around the Sun and the speed of light in miles per minute. So, without further ado, I leave you with this from the Monty Python YouTube Channel (spotted via Dave P's tweet).



Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 20th Nov 2008 (12:11 GMT) | Permalink
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