From the March 2013 issue

Earth spins as it orbits the Sun, and the solar system is orbiting the galactic center. So, if I go outside and look up, in what direction are we heading?

Dale Peterson, Oak View, California
By | Published: March 25, 2013 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

When you gaze up at the constellation Hercules, you are looking out the front window of the spacecraft called Earth. Our planet is hurtling at some 45,000 mph (72,000 km/h) toward the star Lambda (λ) Herculis, which lies about 370 light-years away. (Textbooks often state the bright star Vega, to generalize the direction.) At this speed (and if Lambda Herculis remained in the same position), it would take some 5.5 million years to reach this point in space; it’s not worth thinking about, so just enjoy the ride.

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