Harvard postdoctoral fellow Samuel Arbesman has created this beautiful subway map of our home galaxy, based on the original modern subway map—Harry beck's London tube. Can you spot the Sun? Zoom in.
Yes. We are Sol, a small station with no transfers. Arbesman, who designed the map after re-reading Carl Sagan Contact's references to a cosmic Grand Central Station, thinks that this map gives us "a bit more familiarity" with our galaxy that we don't normally have. Like modern subway maps, it clearly lays out our relation to other stars and nebulae:
Our galaxy is unimaginably vast, and we really have no idea what is out there. We are discovering new planets in other star systems all the time, learning new facts about the galactic core, and even learning about whole new portions of the galaxy. This map is an attempt to approach our galaxy with a bit more familiarity than usual and get people thinking about long-term possibilities in outer space.
I agree. It's a great way to show it. I'm kind of pissed off at the idea that I have to go to Eagle Nebula to catch the Sagittarius line, then down to Carina to get on the Express to Cygnus, where they have this amazing blues bar—called The Groovy Swan—on the corner of Wolf-Rayet star and Epsilon Cygni. But then again, Sol is such a nice area to live in. Except for those damn hipsters. [Arbesman]