With our Wellington City Library holiday focus and activities on Our Place in Space, we thought it’d be fun to explore some amazing facts and figures about our wonderful universe. Be prepared for some mind-blowing ideas as we take a big picture look at what’s out there.
What is the Universe?
The universe is…well…everything. Every star, galaxy, planet, and all of space down to the smallest cell and atom. We don’t know how big the universe is – it may go on forever, but we don’t know if it does! The farthest we can see is around 13 billion light years away. Everything within this distance is called the observable universe. As far as scientists can tell, space spreads out infinitely in all directions. By observing the known universe, scientists conclude that galaxies fill all of the space throughout the entire universe, and our little corner where the Milky Way Galaxy sits, appears to be no different from any other corner!
The Big Bang – the start (and end) of it all
Most scientists today believe that the universe was created about 13.8 billion years ago by a massive explosion. Matter, space and time all began at this moment. This is called the Big Bang Theory. Straight after the Big Bang, the universe expanded incredibly quickly, doubling in size about 100 times a second! The universe continues to expand even today, but what will happen billions of years into the future? There are three main ideas about how the universe will end:
The Big Crunch theory: According to this theory, the universe will at some time reach its maximum size. It will then start to get smaller and smaller, eventually collapsing into the biggest-ever black hole.
The Big Freeze theory: This theory suggests that the universe will keep expanding forever. This theory has its problems though – as everything is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d further apart, all of its heat will be spread out thinly across space. In the end nothing will remain warm in a dark and very cold universe! Brrrrr!
The Big Rip theory: According to this theory, everything in the universe will keep expanding until it is eventually ripped apart with all matter destroyed.
Want to blow your mind with more space facts?
- World Space Week | 4 – 10 October 2022
- Space Junk, Blood Moons and Annular Eclipses | WCL Kids’ Blog
- NASA | Space Place
- RocketLab | Education
- National Geographic Kids | Space
- Space Place at Carter Observatory
To look up space books in the library, go to the children’s non-fiction section and look under the Dewey number 520
Space number crunch! : the figures, facts and space stats you need to know / Pettman, Kevin
“Space Number Crunch! is a snappily written, fact-packed overview of the world of space, bursting with colourful, punchy data graphics and high-impact artworks. It’s guaranteed to contain all the essential info that space fans aged 8 and up need to know. Each piece of data is based around a number, creating an entire book of easy-to-digest information that will hook the most reluctant of readers. Includes features on the Big Bang, Mission to Mars, the Hubble Telescope and each of the extraordinary planets in our solar system.” (Catalogue)
Space record breakers / Rooney, Anne
“Space is mind-boggling. Time is measured in billions of years, and distances in trillions of kilometres. Space Record Breakers takes all this wonder and packages it in digestible, factual form, focusing half on the natural wonders of space and half on the history (and future) of humankind’s exploration. Which is the biggest known planet? What’s the hottest star? Who’s the most intrepid astronaut?Presents information on outer space and human space exploration, including the planet with the most moons, the first woman in space, and the closest star to the solar system.” (Catalogue)
Super cool space facts : a fun, fact-filled space book for kids / Betts, Bruce
“Take an exciting, fact-filled journey that goes where all great space books for kids should – to our solar system and beyond! Super Cool Space Facts is bursting with info about stormy planets, exploding stars, weird black holes, amazing landers, and more. Launch into learning with awesome and easy-to-digest facts about everything from asteroids hurtling through space to astronauts on the International Space Station. Fill your outer space adventure with the jokes, big word alerts, and fascinating mysteries of the universe all space books for kids should have. See how cool space is with incredible pictures of stars, galaxies, planets, constellations, and more.” (Catalogue, abridged)
Super space encyclopedia / Gifford, Clive
“Bursting with fascinating facts and the latest breathtaking images, this space book for children brings the wonders of the Solar System to life. Find out about the never-ending storms on Jupiter. Learn about the towering volcanoes of Venus — all 1,600 of them, and see the Valles Marineris on Mars — a canyon that is ten times longer than Earth’s Grand Canyon. Find out many more fascinating “super” facts about the cosmos with Super Space Encyclopedia. Based on recent research and discoveries, Super Space Encyclopedia showcases everything you need to know about the Universe — from the Big Bang to the formation of galaxies and planets as well as the technology used to explore it unimaginable depths. Fabulous cutaway artworks help to reveal the inner workings of the Sun, planets, and spacecraft.” (Catalogue)
50 things you should know about space / Prinja, Raman
“What exactly goes on at the International Space Station and why does the Earth spin? Just how big is our galaxy and how did the Moon form? From constellations to space shuttles, Space is as endlessly fascinating as the Universe itself. Discover everything you ever wanted to know about space missions, colliding galaxies, light years, solar eclipses, the surface of the Sun and much, much more in this exciting title. Packed with facts and figures, you’ll also find out about astronomers, astronauts and scientists and how their incredible jobs have enabled us to learn so much about our Universe.” (Catalogue)
Your place in the universe / Chin, Jason
“A non-fiction introduction to the massive scale of the known universe” (Catalogue)
Exoplanets / Simon, Seymour
“Introduces exoplanets, examining the planets outside of our solar system, discussing what makes them habitable, and exploring the efforts to discover new life.” (Catalogue)