central illustration

“I felt so damn happy all of a sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could’ve been there.” 

- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Displayed along the 400-foot-long walkway that hugs the glass curtain wall on the second level of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Scales of the Universe vividly illustrates the vast range of sizes in the universe, from subatomic particles and objects on the human scale to the largest objects in the observable cosmos. The exhibit features realistically rendered planets, including a 9-foot-diameter model of Jupiter and Saturn with rings 17 feet in diameter, that hang from the ceiling.

The 87-foot diameter Hayden Sphere at the center of the Rose Center serves as a central reference for illustrating the relative sizes of galaxies, stars, planets, cells, and atoms, with text panels and models that invite visitors to make different sets of comparisons. For example, if the sphere represents the Milky Way galaxy, a typical star cluster within it is the size of a baseball. If the sphere is taken to be the Sun, Earth would be the size of a grapefruit.