The Evolving Universe, a Smithsonian exhibition, opens at Lowell on October 12

Tarantula Nebula, NGC 2070

Tarantula Nebula, NGC 2070, N. Caldwell & B. McLeod (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA).

Lowell Observatory is pleased to announce a new traveling exhibit, The Evolving Universe.  This exhibition, developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, reveals the dynamic and evolving universe through breathtaking photographs and informative captions.

The Evolving Universe explores how the stars, galaxies and universe undergo the same stages as life on Earth: from birth, to maturity and, eventually, to death. This remarkable journey from present-day Earth to the far reaches of space and time will be on view at Lowell Observatory from October 12 through January 5 and will then continue to travel on an exciting sixteen city tour through 2017.

Visitors to the exhibition can choose one of two paths to explore the cosmos. They can begin close to home with our solar system and move outward to the farthest reaches of the universe. Or they can begin 13.7 billion years ago at the moment of the Big Bang and move forward in time to the present day. Along their journey they will learn how a variety of telescopes and instruments, many developed by SAO, reveal the fascinating history of the expanding universe.

In addition to telescopic images from space, researchers are actively investigating microscopic images of meteorites found on Earth. Their composition reveals what changes have taken place in the universe during the passage of billions of years while the Earth was still in formation, well before humans even existed. All of the elements—the raw materials that make up everything in the universe, including the Earth and human bodies—are formed within stars and released into space when stars die. Visitors may be surprised to learn that their bodies are composed of this stardust and will be able to see an example of interstellar diamond dust found in a meteorite in 1969. This will join the compelling visuals and epic stories of supernovas, stellar nurseries, nebulae and galaxy clusters that reveal the fascinating history of the expanding universe.

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