Astrophotographer Cory Schmitz illustrated humanity's humble beginnings in the cosmos at the CFO Awards 2019.
Under the autumn sky on Wednesday at the Dimension Data Oval in Johannesburg, South Africa's top CFOs got a chance to look at the moon through astrophotographer Cory Schmitz telescopes set up on the cricket field.
After a delicious dinner created by celebrity chef Franz de Waal , Cory gave some perspective on people fit into the universe, humbling the esteemed CFOs. His talk was accompanied by breathtaking photographs of space objects tasks by Cory himself.
“From our astronomical observations, there are up to 400 billion stars in our galaxy. It's also 150,000 light years wide. To appreciate the scale, we need to look at the things we know to tell you about the scale, ”Cory started.
It's so big that the distance that we use to measure the space between objects is the distance that light can travel in one year.
Light travels 300,000 kilometers per second. Everything we see is in the past. It takes 1.3 seconds for light to get to the moon. So what we see when we look at the moon is 1.3 seconds ago. Or six months in the car. So if you are driving 100 kilometers per hour in the car, it's about six months to get there.
"That's a lot of petrol," Cory joked.
The light from our sun, at the speed of light, of course, takes eight minutes to teach us. So when we see the sun in the sky, what we see is eight minutes in the past. Or 170 years in your car. It looks big, but our sun isn't actually. Someday, about 2 or 3 billion years from now, our planet's orbit will be swallowed up by the sun.
"So we better adapt, or we're all going to that," Cory said, addressing the theme of the night.
At the speed of light, it takes 45 minutes to get to Jupiter. It will take us 1.3 hours to get to Saturn at the speed of light.
"One thing to know about the speed of light, however, is as we approach the speed of light and our mass approaches infinity," Cory explained, according to physics. "So hopefully you didn't eat too much."
4.3 years to get to Alpha Centauri, the closest star to our sun and the closest possible solar system, at the speed of light. It's the closest possible place where there could be another planet where we could possibly find any other life. Or 4 700 000 000 years in your car.
And then there's the nearest galaxy to us, Andromeda, that's actually about twice the size of ours. Its 2.5 million light years away. That means that what we see was what Andromeda looked like 2.5 million years ago.
Another thing about our galaxy is that these regions of dust and gas called nebulae is where stars are born, and around these new stars, the planets and moons coalesce and evolve.
Most stars are shown to have planets. Cory says that the current estimate is that in the Milky Way there are 100 billion planets alone. How do we know? We put space telescopes up there and then we take pictures of stars, and then the star dims just a little bit from something passing in front of it, probably a planet.
"And just when we think we know things, we put a space telescope up there and then we take some photos and we are blown away again," Cory said.
How big is the universe really? Cory explains that we don't really know. "We can't understand our brains don't compute how big."
A while ago the American Museum of Natural History created a video that shows where we are and what we've seen with all the astronomical data that we've looked at. From now, this is what we know:
"The cool thing about this is that we are the jewels of the universe. Humans and all life on earth are carbon-based. Elemental carbon can ONLY be made in a star ... so all life on earth is made or stardust. You are, quite literally, a star. "
Cory concluded the presentation saying:
“So thinking about this, I'm going to end with some wise words from an astrophysicist called Neil Degrasse Tyson. "Not only are we in the universe ... the universe is in us."
Cory's presentation was well received by the audience of finance executives who, although they are no strangers to large numbers, found that their horizons had most definitely been expanded.