The Solar System At The Speed Of Light, It Might Look Like This...

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I found this really cool video entitled, "If You Could Tour The Solar System At The Speed Of Light, It Might Look Like This".

I think the video best shows the vast distances between the planets in our solar system.

The video, however, interpreted in an Einsteinian way of what it's like traveling at the speed of light might be flawed.

Let's say I can travel at the speed of light and at the start I am looking at the sun just like the video begins. The sun would not get smaller as I traveled away because that implies the light from the sun changed which it couldn't since the changed light would have to travel faster than the speed of light to reach me. And yet according to Einstein the speed of light is the absolute speed limit of the universe.

So once I start moving away from the sun at the speed of light, the sun wouldn't change in appearance at all. It would be like a still photographic snapshot of the sun the moment I reached the speed of light until I stopped and the light caught up with me. Or maybe it would be black looking backward since no photons could catch up and hit my eyes, but bright looking forward in the direction of my travel. The tour would be a very boring trip--at least looking backwards.

So the video is best interpreted as what the universe looks like while traveling at "nearly the speed of light". As the light catches up with me, the sun would become smaller and dimmer at a rate determined by my sub-light speed. It's still an neat video!

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm


Sorry Anti. If you move away from the sun at the speed of light you become pure energy and cannot look at anything. If you move away from the sun at half the speed of light it will look to you like the light from the sun and the light you are approaching are both moving at the speed of light. In fact, all observers always see light traveling at the speed of light, a universal constant. To begin at the beginning: Star Wars may have looked "cool" or maybe not, but it was definitely not authentic.


Roland de Brabant's picture
Roland de Brabant
Jan. 31, 2014 4:25 pm

Light path analysis and consequences in figure 4 shows light traveling with Michelson–Morley apparatus in which one mirror is moving.

Also, how about the Doppler Effect in light with blue shift for light traveling toward the observer and red shifts in light traveling away from the observer? These are differing speeds of light relative to the observer. So let's say light is traveling from the sun to earth at the speed of light and it takes X time to reach the observer on earth. What happens if the observer is moving backwards at 3/4 the speed of light? Surely it will mean >X time would be greater since the distance would be greater between the light source and observer. Therefore, the visualization would be different as my speed increases from 44%, 78% to 89% the speed of light. Looking backward toward the sun there would be a red shift, and toward the direction of my travel would be blue and ultimately violet (blue shift).

Antifascist's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

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