Michael West is director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket.
1916: The year Albert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity, which laid the foundation for big bang cosmology.
0: The number of Nobel Prizes that Einstein won for his General Theory of Relativity.
240: The number of pieces Einstein’s brain was cut into for research purposes after he died.
100 billion: The estimated number of human beings who have ever lived on Earth.
400 billion: The estimated number of stars in our Milky Way galaxy.
38 percent: The share of atoms in the human body that are heavier than hydrogen and hence were made inside stars.
2: The number of golf balls left on the moon in 1971 by astronaut Alan Shepard.
4: The number of people in a family photograph left on the moon’s surface by astronaut Charles Duke in 1972.
8: The number of minutes it takes light from the sun to reach Earth.
328: The number of minutes it takes light from the sun to reach Pluto.
5 million: The number of minutes it will take the New Horizons spacecraft, which launched in 2006, to travel from Earth to Pluto.
3.5 percent: The amount of funding for NASA compared with that of the U.S. military in President Obama’s proposed 2015 budget.
7.3 billion: Dollar amount in the president’s proposed 2015 budget for the National Science Foundation, which funds research in astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, physics and other sciences.
26 percent: The share of American adults who think that the sun revolves around the Earth, according to a February study by the National Science Foundation.
3,536:The approximate number of years it would take to walk to the sun.
177: How many years it would take to drive to the sun at 60 miles per hour.
49 million: How many years it would take to drive to the next nearest star, Proxima Centauri.
9.3 billion: Approximate number of years the universe had existed before Earth formed.
1.5 billion: Estimated total cost in dollars to build the European Extremely Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope ever, the construction of which will soon begin in northern Chile.
2.5 billion: Total cost in dollars to buy one tall Starbucks caffe latte for every man, woman and child in the European Union.
8.8 billion: Total cost in dollars to build the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled for launch in 2018.
5 million: How many tons of matter the sun converts into energy every second.
1.3 million: The number of Earths that could fit inside the sun if it were hollow.
Infinite: The universe’s potential to fascinate and inspire people of all ages.