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Description Itinerary Walkthrough

Our Place in Space
The journey begins in our own Milky Way galaxy.

    Cosmic Questions: Welcome Home
    Cosmic Questions: Welcome Home
    Photo by Kevin Burke/SAO

Welcome Home uses a large mural of the Milky Way to give scale and context for where we live in our "cosmic neighborhood." Explore an interactive map and a tactile bronze model of our galaxy while listening to an audio narration.

Mapping the Universe shows how ideas about our place in the universe have been expanding throughout time with a display detailing the human quest to map our place in the cosmos. View the galaxies in 3-D using a stereo viewer and see an astrolabe, an instrument used by astronomers 1,000 years ago.

Wall of Galaxies illustrates that the Milky Way is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe. Travel from Earth through the universe using state-of-the-art scientific visualizations of the cosmos.

Human Reflections invites visitors to listen in on philosophers, scientists, and others as they reflect on our place in the universe. Visitors can view artifact replicas from ancient civilizations and create their own cosmic poetry on a magnetic board.

Observing the Universe
This area allows visitors to explore the universe, using the tools of some of the world's foremost ground-based and space-borne observatories.

Cosmic Questions: Multi-Wavelength Astronomy
Cosmic Questions: Multi-Wavelength Astronomy
Photo by Kevin Burke/SAO
    Mauna Kea, a multimedia recreation of the observatory on Hawaii, highlights the ways we observe the universe from Earth. Visitors can use an interactive CD-rom to meet scientists who use and operate Mauna Kea telescopes; see a telescope mirror in the making; view beautiful telescope images; and control a telescope themselves-requesting an image to be taken tonight and forwarded to an e-mail address tomorrow!


Chandra, a multimedia recreation of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, highlights the ways we observe the universe from space. Visitors can use an interactive CD-rom to meet scientists who use and operate Chandra; examine a model of this new space telescope; and view beautiful x-ray images of the universe.

Multi-Wavelength Astronomy shows how astronomers use different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to learn new things about the universe. This area is an introduction to the rainbow of light beyond what our eyes can see and an exploration of what different objects look like in those wavelengths. Visitors can use special multiwavelength viewers to explore the night sky, listen to an audio analogy of the electromagnetic spectrum, and compare different views of stars, nebulae and galaxies using an astronomer as their guide.

Spectra Interactive demonstrates what light tells us about an object by displaying the information contained in a star's light spectrum. Visitors can use a real spectroscope to analyze the light coming from different sources in a simulated star field.

Infrared Astronomy shows how infrared "eyes" can help us observe the world around us in new ways. This multiwavelength activity highlights the infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Visitors can use a near-infrared camera to see phenomena invisible to our eyes.

Sky-Watchers, Then & Now illustrates astronomical awareness throughout history and across many cultures with cross-cultural observations of the supernova explosion of 1054 A.D. Visitors can observe a reproduction of an ancient Native American bowl thought to document the supernova's appearance.

Beyond Hubble provides up-to-date information about the latest developments in space science. A computer station and bulletin board allow visitors to explore current astronomy news.

Our Place in Time
In this area visitors are invited to reflect on the human story as it relates to the unfolding story of the cosmos.

Cosmic Questions: The Big Bang
Cosmic Questions: The Big Bang
Photo by Kevin Burke/SAO

    Cosmic Kitchen introduces
    visitors to their role in the
    story of the universe. This
    short theatrical production explores the history of the universe and the "recipe" for
    our own existence, and goes deeper into Carl Sagan's quotation, "in order to bake an
    apple pie from scratch, first you
    have to invent the universe."


Cosmic Calendar highlights the major events throughout the history of the universe and how they relate to the story of life as we know it. This giant calendar shows the 14-billion-year history of the universe as if it occurred in a single year. Which atoms in our bodies are the oldest? Visitors can find out here.

The Big Bang guides visitors in thinking about how we can examine and understand conditions present at the beginning of the universe. Visitors can listen to Einstein as he guides them through 3-D models of "space-time," peek into a model of the expanding universe, examine the evidence for a Big Bang, and take an interactive journey through time.

Great Cosmic Mysteries
While the other sections of this exhibit invite visitors to explore what we currently know and understand about our place in space and time, this area acknowledges that there are deep mysteries yet to be understood.

Cosmic Questions: What are Black Holes? & Are We Alone?
Cosmic Questions: What are Black Holes? & Are We Alone?
Photo by Kevin Burke/SAO

Connecting with the Cosmos gives visitors the opportunity to make personal and aesthetic connections to the themes of the exhibit in a video mini-theater where they can contemplate their connections to the cosmos through words, music and images.

What's the Cosmos Made Of? introduces visitors to the ideas of dark matter and dark energy using a display about the composition of the cosmos, both observable and invisible. Visitors can view an eclectic sample of the 5 percent of the universe we know about; see evidence for the invisible world of subatomic particles in a cloud chamber; and examine the evidence for unseen matter and energy in the universe.

Are We Alone? engages visitors' thoughts about other worlds and displays information about the search for extra-solar planets and the possibility of life beyond Earth. Visitors can explore the conditions for life in various parts of the universe (computer interactive), enjoy historical views of other worlds and artistic visions of newly discovered extra-solar planets, and compare a model of an alien solar system to ours.

What Are Black Holes? familiarizes visitors with the science around black holes by taking them through an immersive virtual exploration environment. Visitors can take control of a spacecraft orbiting a black hole, launch probes into the black hole to explore its bizarre behavior, and learn about the anatomy of and evidence for black holes.

Description Itinerary Walkthrough
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