One of the hardest things for people to understand about the universe is just how big it is
. There are three approaches typically used in describing its size. The first, the song, was pioneered by Monty Python
(NSFWish, wireframe of naked woman) and then done just as masterfully by the Animaniacs.
The second, the zoom method has been featured twice before
here on the blue. The third method is the comparison
method (skip to 1:30, unless you like looking at a image of the solar system with terrible distorted orbits), yielding some truly beautiful
videos (this one found via the fantastic Bad Astronomy
blog). These videos go, at most, as far as looking at the local cluster or the Virgo Supercluster. There are two videos that attempt to show the size of the entire universe, one unsuccessfully
(although with great music) and one successfully
. (Warning, all links except the first one, are to YT videos).
(These links are not YT videos, with the one noted exception)
The last video shows the Sloan Great Wall (although it confuses the entire image with just the wall itself, which is only the largest galaxy filament
(large mpg of a filament
) that we can see in the sky. These filaments create the large scale structure
of the universe, resembling a web or a cotton ball. (YT Video)
Once one looks larger than the filaments, one hits the "End of Greatness", where the universe appears homogeneous. (This can be seen, more or less, in the first link.)
Finally, and perhaps the best link of the bunch, more pictures and videos
of similar things from the Max Planck Institute of Astrophysics.