The Universe Is, Like, Seriously Huge: Stuff in Space Is Far Away – but How Do We Know?

Presented at 33C3 (2016), Dec. 29, 2016, 11:30 p.m. (30 minutes)

Astronomers struggle to accurately measure distances in the vastness of the known universe. Get an insight into the sophisticated techniques and dirty tricks of today's astrophysics and cosmology. No physics background required, featuring lots of pretty space pictures. On Earth, distances are commonly given in meters and kilometers, and can be measured comfortably with measuring sticks, odometers or optical instruments. But how does that work in space, where machines take years to arrive at other bodies, and distant stars are utterly out of reach? From precise calculations to daring guesstimates, many different techniques and approaches are combined to form what's called the "cosmic distance ladder", giving more or less reasonable estimates of the distances between planets, stars and galaxies. Climb the distance ladder and get to know our place in Space from kilometers to Astronomical Units and light years, all the way to gigaparsecs and the reaches of the known universe.


  • Michael Büker
    With Congress since 28C3. Currently living in Dresden. Linux, languages and Internet geek. Diploma in physics with specialization in astroparticle physics and peace research. Working in science communication and science journalism, sometimes seen on stage or behind the scenes where science goes entertainment.


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