How was the universe created?
How has it changed over time?
How do we know?
Through amazing and rare photographs, visitors to The Evolving Universe will learn the answers to these questions and more. Travel through time and find out how Smithsonian scientists study the far reaches of space and the astronomical beginning of time.
We can never see the universe as it is right now, only how it was in the past. In The Evolving Universe, visitors will journey from the here and now of Earth to beyond our galaxy, traveling back through time and out into space. The very nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, is four light years away. When we gaze at it in the sky, the light hitting our eyeballs left it four years ago, so we're seeing Alpha Centauri as it was in 2010. In this sense our telescopes are also time machines: the most distant galaxies we study are billions of light years away and we are seeing them as they were before the Earth was formed.
The Evolving Universe was developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the National Museum of Natural History where it was on view in 2012 and 2013. The original exhibition was funded by The Windland Smith Rice Nature’s Best Photography Fund.