how big is our universehome-download pdf-print-friendly pdf-credits

how far

- the sun
and planets


- across the
milky way



the distant

- how far
can we see
- how big is
the universe


"How Big is our Universe?" was created by the NASA-Smithsonian Education Forum on the Structure and Evolution of the Universe, at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Images on this website are used with permission. For information about reproducing these images, please contact their respective owners. Thank you for your cooperation.

Image Credits

Pleiades, © Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
M51, NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
XMM-Newton, © European Space Agency
how far away:
Sombrero Galaxy, The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA)
, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Italian, 1691-1765. Interior of the Pantheon, Rome, 1747. Oil on canvas, 127 x 97.8 cm. © The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2003. Purchase from the J.H. Wade Fund, 1974.39
Greek bust, source unknown
Earth-Moon, USGS Astrogeology, NASA/JPL/Caltech
the sun and planets:
Edmund Halley, Eric Hutton
Transit of Venus, U.S. Naval Observatory Library
Thumbs up, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
the stars:
Pleiades, © Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
Friedrich Bessel, source unknown
Star field, DSS (StSci),© 1993-1995 by the California Institute of Technology, Palomar Observatory, STScI/DSS
across the milky way:
Milky Way, 2MASS/J. Carpenter, T. H. Jarrett, & R. Hurt
Henrietta Leavitt, Courtesy AAVSO
Galaxy, Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA)
Quarter, Courtesy U.S. Mint
other galaxies:
Galaxy cluster, Gemini Observatory - GMOS-S Commissioning Team
Edwin Hubble, The MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive
the distant galaxies:
Galaxy cluster, NASA, N. Benitez (JHU), T. Broadhurst (Racah Institute of Physics/The Hebrew University), H. Ford (JHU), M. Clampin (STScI), G. Hartig (STScI), G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick Observatory), the ACS Science Team and ESA
Keck Telescopes, © 1998 Richard J. Wainscoat
Supernova, NASA and J. Blakeslee (JHU)
how far can we see:
Cosmic Microwave Background, NASA/WMAP Science Team
WMAP satellite, NASA/WMAP Science Team
Galaxy field, R. Williams (STScI), the Hubble Deep Field Team and NASA
how big is the universe:
Night sky view, Gemini Observatory, Peter Michaud and Kirk Pu'uohau-Pummill
LISA spacecraft, Illustration courtesy of NASA/JPL/Caltech
Lake scene, © 1995-2003 DigArts Software