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Try This: Explore the Universe In Your Hand


Try This: Explore the Universe in Your Hand

This #SMOatHome is part of Space Day presented by Allied Arts!

The universe is big, really big — in fact, as you read this it is expanding even more! As you can imagine this can be hard to detect with the unaided eye, but a balloon can help give us an outside look at the immense universe.

Try This: Universe In Your Hand

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A balloon
  • A marker
  • A ruler, or something to measure


Here’s what to do:

1. Make several dots on the uninflated balloon with the marker. Use the ruler to measure the distance between the dots. If you don’t have a ruler, you can make your own informal measurements. In the photos, all of the dots are about 1 centimeter apart.

2. Inflate the balloon to about the size of an apple. Measure the dots again. How far apart are they now? Keep inflating the balloon until it’s as big as your head. How far apart are the dots now?

So what does this have to do with the universe?
Since the Big Bang, the universe has been expanding outward in every direction. With time gravitationally unbound bodies in the universe grow farther apart. For example, Earth’s place in our solar system and our solar system’s place in the Milky Way may remain relatively the same due to the effects of gravity. The distance between the Milky Way and other galaxies will increase with time. 

Let’s look at the balloon again. The empty balloon depicts the universe a very long time ago. Everything is close together. As you inflate the balloon all of those galaxies in the universe, represented by the dots, grow farther and farther apart. 

Observations made by Edwin Hubble about a hundred years ago showed the universe was not static and was growing. His research would lead to scientists to believe the universe began in the Big Bang has been expanding since.