We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
Venus Express, ESA's first spacecraft to the planet, has been having a good ol' time skimming the surface at an altitude of 81 miles , finding rainbows and investigating those holes in the planet's atmosphere.
If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel is a tediously accurate model of the Solar System that Josh Worth made to explain to his daughter just how difficult it is to go on holiday to Mars.
Stunning video of the transit of Venus by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Missed the transit of Venus in 2004? Want to know if you'll be able to see the transit on June 5/6 from your location? Want a free badge-of-geekhood app for your iPhone? It's all right here! [more inside]
There's a little black spot on the sun today.... Venus transits the sun in June - it's a once-in-a-lifetime event for most of us. (Bonus song lyric links here and youtube here)
At forty miles (64.4 km) from Pluto to Sun, the Maine Solar System Model is the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the solar system in the world. What, you didn't know there was more than one? And yes, Pluto is staying put.