A barbecue with my Solar Interstellar Neighborhood!

This past weekend, my wife and I took our boys to the Griffith Park Observatory. In a thinly veiled attempt at good parenting, I meandered from exhibit to exhibit, trying to read one step ahead of them so as to be able to appear educated and informed. Again, this was a thinly veiled attempt.

We happened upon a talk being given by an astrophysicist who appeared to be all of twelve years old, during which she demonstrated the relative size of the Earth when compared to our Solar System and galaxy.

Look, I don't want to get all smarty pants on you guys, or use any of them fancy shmancy words, so let me just put it in simple terms you can understand. Compared to the known universe, the Earth is like a tiny dust particle spinning around in my Dyson vacuum cleaning chamber after not having emptied it for six years. Yes, I scientifically verified that fact to be true. (Editor's note: Scott just made that up, but you probably knew that!)

I thought the earth was HUGE! Man, was I wrong.

Not only are we the sickly little brother to our brother planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, but it turns out, our Solar System is equally UNIMPRESSIVE when compared to galaxy and universe! (Editor's note: I removed Scott Uranus joke... You're welcome).

Yep, that's right, after you leave our solar system, you wander through the Solar Interstellar Neighborhood, out to our Milky Way Galaxy, towards the Local Galactic Group, through the Virgo Supercluster, towards our Local Superclusters and into the known Observable Universe.

When I said the Earth was a spec of dust, I believe I may have over-estimated our size. (Editors note: What?! Scott guesstimating?! SHOCKER!).

I have never been to space, nor have my neighbors in the Solar Interstellar Neighborhood invited me over for a barbecue, so it is hard for me to conceive of the scale of it all. The Earth is my home and is my only frame of reference, so I am sticking with my story. The Earth is HUGE! (Editors note: Notice how hard concrete evidence fails to sway Scott. Is anyone else concerned by this?)

When I taught, I was convinced my band program was HUGE as well. I saw everything through the lens of my four walls and the students that passed through it.

Sure, I knew that there was also a really good choir and orchestra program just down the hallway, but the band was my epicenter. Yes, I was fed by two middle schools and six elementary schools, but we were a big deal! Yes, there were five other highly successful high school music programs in my district, but they weren't like us. Yes, I know that Phoenix is the fifth largest city in America and just one of fifty states, but my program was special. Yes, I know that music making exists from birth to death and that is it supported by industry partners, manufactures, record labels, and traditional and social media. And yes, I know that the financial size and scope of all of this is equivalent to Black Friday at Amazon. Of course, music education exists on every continent, but not like it does in America.

But I remember us as being HUGE... Weren't we?

  • Yes, we were huge... to a bunch of kids who had nothing else to do.
  • Yes, we were huge... to a bunch of kids who had nowhere else to go.
  • Yes, we were huge... to a bunch of kids who had no one else to look up to.
  • Yes, we were huge... to teenagers in search of success and achievement.
  • Yes, we were huge... to a bunch of parents who were trying to raise good kids.
  • Yes, we were huge... to a school community that needed something to be proud of.
  • Yes, we were huge... to twenty four year old teacher wanting to make a difference.

Even when compared to the vastness of music education, to the people that mattered, we were HUGE and so are you!

Now if you will excuse me... I need to take care of something that's bothering me.

(Editor's note: Scott left to empty the vacuum.)