How We Measure the Universe Without Intergalactic Rulers

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Scientists tell us that our universe is trillions of miles wide, but how exactly do they come to that measurement without an equally long tape measure? As this beautifully animated video explains, by using similar techniques for measuring distant objects here on Earth.

When staring out the window of a moving car you've probably noticed that closer objects seem to whiz by faster than objects off in the distance. That phenomenon is known as parallax, and is one of many techniques used to gauge the distance to nearby celestial objects. Like the doppler effect, which gives passing cars that unique sound, but applied to the light coming from far off objects. What's particularly neat is that these various techniques are all used in conjunction with each other to let us calculate the distance to the very edge of our ever-expanding universe, and subsequently blow our minds. [Vimeo via The Awesomer]