EXPLORE THE UNIVERSE: Welcome : How the Site Works
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About the Exhibit | How the Site Works
Floor Plan | Exhibit Artifacts

How the Site Works

This site is based on the "Explore the Universe" exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Divided into four sections focusing on different methods of observation, the site allows you to explore the history of our understanding of the Universe. As you move through the site, the icon in the top right corner will indicate where you would be in the actual museum exhibition.

Each section is arranged chronologically to impart a sense of our evolving view of the Universe. Photographs, animations, and videos appearing throughout the site will show you the tools, the people, and the observations that have shaped that view. From time to time, you will also see a "Explore Further" button. Clicking on it will reveal additional information about the subject you are exploring. The site, like the exhibition, is designed to allow you to explore as much or as little as you choose and to gain a deeper appreciation for the Universe and the tools that have revealed it to us.





Floor Plan







Explore the Universe Artifacts and Major Models

Below is a summary of the artifacts that are n the Explore the Universe exhibit space and mentioned throughout the site. We hope that you can make it in person!

Exploring the Universe with the Naked Eye
   Islamic astrolabe, 1090 A.D.
   French astrolabe, circa 1600s UN:220-S8 Islamic celestial globe, 1630 A.D.
   Quadrant astrolabe, circa 1325 A.D.
   Portable mural quadrant replica
   Armillary sphere replica

Exploring the Universe with Telescopes
   Galilean telescope replica
   Cometarium
   Isaac Newton's telescope replica
   Achromatic telescope, circa 1818
   Lens and eyepiece, circa 1685
   William Herschel's 20-foot telescope tube
   Telescope mirror for the 20-foot telescope
   Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal awarded to John Herschel

Exploring the Universe with Photography
   Observing Cage from the Mount Wilson Observatory's 100-Inch telescope
   Photographic plate
   Lantern slides of galaxies by James Keeler
   Blink comparator for finding variable stars 500 Exploring the Universe with Spectroscopy
   Spectroscope from the late 1800s
   Spectrograph from the early 1900s
   Machine for measuring shifts in spectral lines
   Prime focus spectrograph from Palomar Observatory's 200-inch telescope
   Prime focus spectrograph camera
   Prime focus spectrograph diffraction grating
   Prime focus spectrograph photographic plate holders

Exploring the Universe in the Digital Age
   Electromagnetic spectrum in stained glass
   Dicke radiometer
   IRAS focal plane detector
   IRAS detectors
   CCDs
   Kodak digital camera
   Mark III Photometer from Kitt Peak Observatory
   Copernicus Open Cathode Photomultiplier
   ROSAT High-Resolution Imager (HRI)
   HRI detector screen prototype
   EGRET detector element
   Hess cosmic ray telescope
   Alpher, Herman, and Gamow "Ylem" bottle
   Pigeon trap used by Penzias and Wilson
   Reconstructed Leeds & Northrup Model G chart recorder
   Balloon-borne far-infrared spectrometer
   Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) 1/5-scale model
   FIRAS and DIRBE prototypes from COBE
   Far Infrared Spectrograph (FIRS)
   U-2 DMR
   Boomerang detector element
   Hubble Space Telescope (HST) 1/5-scale model
   Optical elements from HST WF/PC camera
   CCD from HST WF/PC camera
   4-shooter pyramid prism
   Keck Observatory model
   Hubble Space Telescope backup mirror
   Half-aluminized test mirror
   Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT) combining prism
   Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT)
   Spectrograph used by Geller and Huchra
   CCDs from Sloan Digital Sky Survey
   Sloan telescope plug plate
   Spectrograph used by Vera Rubin UN:633-M9 Chandra 1/5-scale model
   X-ray telescope mirror
   Faint Object Spectrograph from Hubble Space Telescope
   Photomultiplier tube from Kamiokande II neutrino observatory
   Four-Meter Mayall Telescope 1/44-scale model




Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum