Happy Galactic Tick Day!

Celebrating a full trip around the Milky Way galaxy

Image: European Southern Observatory

Once every two hundred and twenty-five or so million years, the earth travels around the galactic center of the Milky Way. Because you can do basically anything you want with numbers and slice them up however you like to make them meaningful to you, one David Sneider of California found a way to track the earth’s progress as it completes this journey. He calls one hundredth of a second of this arc a “galactic tick,” and it happens every 633.7 days, or 1.7361 years. For those that care, a “centisecond” of arc (centiarcsecond) is 1/6,000 of an arcminute, or 1/360,000 of a degree, or 1/129,600,000 of a circle.”

Today marks the 235th Galactic Tick Day, because the first was somewhat arbitrarily designated as the day the German/Dutch astronomer Hans Lippershey “spectacle-maker” (that means glasses-maker not scene-maker) widely credited for inventing the telescope filed the patent for the thing in 1608. Sneider wrote enthusiastically back in August, “From the perspective of the center of the galaxy, we are moving at 143 miles per second. More people should know that and educate each other!” Here’s hoping you learned something today. You can read a little, but not a lot more here, on Galactic Tick Day’s (which I refused to abbreviate as GTD because that is the sole spiritual property of David Allen) of website.

If you live in San Francisco, you can go to a party celebrating this holiday. If you don’t, or if you prefer to stay in, you can celebrate this meaningless occasion with this simple exercise: “[Breathe in] I am [Breathe out] a meaningless speck in a vast and uncaring universe.” Have a good day.