No snarkiness on this -- this is just pretty!

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(Taken from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day. Click on the thumbnail for full sized galactic splendor!)

I know I tend to be a wiseass with the APOD pictures. Well, occasionally I need to just stop, stare slack jawed at one of them, and say "this is the universe we live in. We can see this, from our world." This is M51, a galaxy some 30 million light years away, that's over sixty thousand light years across. Which means this is the light M51 generated 30 million years ago. And yet, staring at it, it coalesces into a whole that looks immediate and eternal.

Someday, we're going to reach M51. We're going to see what's there. We're going to spread out throughout it. Someday, M51 will be ours, and we will look back at the Milky Way from it with a sense of wonder and awe not unlike what I feel looking at M51.

Sadly, this means one day WalMart will open stores through M51, driving local businesses out of business. Which reminds me, I need to go get a picture frame sometime today.

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