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Having popped it on to one of Osbert's Qs t'other day, I got to wondering if all the facts in Monty Python's Galaxy Song are true, or just made to fit the tune? (Link to the vid below).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo h0yBhOp4s&feature=related copy
asked in Galaxy, expanding, music

vultan answers:

Well a very quick google search reveals that the earth is orbitting the sun at about 30km per second, not 90 miles per second. I believe google before I believe Eric Idle.

I'd say that raises serious doubts about all the other claims the song makes. That woman gave up her liver for lies. Lies!

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siasl74 answers:

Here's the lyrics:
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at 900 miles an hour
That's orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power
The sun and you and me, and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at 40,000 miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the Milky Way

/ A Amaj7 A6 A / A A6 E7 - / - Bm7 E Bm7 / E7 Bm7 A - /
/ 1st / F#7 - Bm - / D Adim7 A F#7 / Bm E7 A - /

Our galaxy itself contains 100 billion stars
It's 100,000 light-years side-to-side
It bulges in the middle, 16,000 light-years thick
But out by us it's just 3000 light-years wide
We're 30,000 light-years from galactic central point
We go round every 200 million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whiz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
Because there's bugger all down here on Earth

Lets take them in order:

The Earths equatorial circumference is around 40,000 km (wiki), which is just a smidge under 25,000 miles. That means someone standing on the equator is "moving" at just over 1,000 miles per hour. That's the fastest - near the poles it'll be near zero. 900mph seems reasonable.

Orintal speed of 19 miles/second.
http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/IlanaEpstein.shtml gives figures of around 29.5 km/s, which is 18 miles per second. I guess there's margin of error there :-)

"all the stars that we can see Are moving at a million miles a day"
The sun is moving at 2.20×10^5 metres/s, which is around 12 million miles per day - but that's the orbital velocity around the centre of the Milky Way. Relative to other stars, the velocity is a tenth of that, so this might be the figure being used here (and in the 40,000 mph on the next line).

In short, they're justifiable within particular contexts :-)

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imfeduptoo answers:

Some of the 'facts' may have been tweaked to fit!

The Earth actually revolves at around 1,000 miles an hour, so if that's not quite correct I imagine there are other little discrepancies.

It doesn't quite get it right with speed of the Milky Way either.


A great song though.

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