Cosmic Times

1955 Cosmic Times Articles

1955 Poster

This poster is the third edition of Cosmic Times, with the publication date chosen to coincide with Einstein's death. By the mid-1950s a number of astronomers had worked on fundamental questions about the universe, and there was no clear answer which was correct. In addition, the size of the universe got bigger, and we started to explore the universe with more than just optical light.

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Content Overview

The year of this issue of the Cosmic Times was chosen to coincide with Einstein's passing. Much has happened since 1929, with the development of two competing theories about the nature of the universe, the discovery of supernovae, and a re-calibration of the Cepheids as standard candles. In addition, astronomers get their first "glimpse" of objects emitting in a region of the em spectrum other than optical light.


  • 1955 Poster (printable at 8.5" x 11" or at its full size of 24" x 33"): pdf
  • 1955 Newsletters:
    • Early Edition (text for grades 7-8): pdf
    • Home Edition (text for grades 9-10): pdf
    • Late Edition (poster text, for grades 11-12): pdf
  • 1955 Questions for Understanding: doc, pdf
  • 1955 Glossary: doc, pdf
  • Full Cosmic Times Glossary: doc, pdf
  • Educator's guide for all Cosmic Times editions: doc, pdf


  • Age of Universe: 6 Billion Years; Size of Universe: 4 Billion Light Years
    Learn more about the age and size →
  • 'Yardsticks' in Neighbor Galaxy Double Universe's Size
    • Summary: Observations by Walter Baade, under dark skies offered by wartime blackouts in Los Angeles, lead to a new calibration of the Cepheids, resulting in new distances to far away galaxies.
    • Thread: Size of the Universe
    • Additional background and information →
  • Origin of Everything: Hot Big Bang or Ageless Universe?
  • Sidebar: Hoyle Scoffs at "Big Bang" Universe Theory
  • Death of a Genius: Albert Einstein 1879 - 1955
  • It's a Star! It's a Nova! It's Super-nova!
  • Radio 'Ear' on the Universe Being Built
    • Summary: Radio astronomy was in its infancy and opening up a whole new set of objects not visible to optical telescopes. Astronomers were building the next big radio telescope.
    • Additional background and information →

Lesson Plans

Download a .zip file containing all 1955 lessons with their associated handouts: doc, pdf

  • The Evidence is Clear
    • Overview: Students consider observations and inferences to determine the support for each of two theories on the origin of the univese.
    • Grades: high school
    • Topics: Physics, Astronomy, Nature of Science
    • Downloads
  • Cosmic Jeopardy
    • Overview: Students will play Jeopardy! based on the articles in the 1955 Cosmic Times.
    • Grades: middle school and high school
    • Topics: Physics, Astronomy
    • Download
      • Lesson Plan: doc, pdf
      • Blank Template for Game: ppt
      • Suggested Questions: doc, pdf
  • Big Bang Science Fiction
    • Overview: Students create a fictional narrative on the beginning of time.
    • Grades: middle school and high school
    • Topics: Multidisciplinary
    • Download
  • Discovering 'Yardsticks' are 'Metersticks'
    • Overview: This lesson uses a simple discrepant event to demonstrate the underlying cause for early miscalculation of the size of the Milky Way galaxy.
    • Grades: high school
    • Topics: Physical Science, Astronomy
    • Download
  • Hubble's Law Mis-calibration Extension
    • Overview: This lesson is an extension of the Cosmic Times 1929 lesson "Determining the Universe" to reproduce a plot of Hubble's Law.
    • Grades: high school
    • Topics: Physics, Astronomy
    • Download
      • Lesson Plan: doc, pdf
      • Supporting Materials (from 1929 lesson):
        • Appendix A: The Rule of 57: doc, pdf
        • Appendix B: Galaxy Images: doc, pdf
        • Appendix C: Galaxy Fact Cards: doc, pdf
        • Appendix D: Questions for Students: doc, pdf

Style Notes

The language in the articles in the 1955 Cosmic Times mimics the style of writing that would have appeared in a real 1955 newspaper. While this is getting closer to more familiar language and sentence structure, it may still be a bit difficult for your students to read. As with other editions, we have provided three versions of the text in newletter form: an Early Edition aimed at 7-8 graders, a Home Edition aimed at 9-10 grades (with text from the online edition), and a Late Edition aimed at 11-12 grades (with the text from the poster). These, along with a glossary and questions for understanding are available above.

The poster also shows a layout that mimics the papers of the time, however, we have taken some creative license to make it more readable in a classroom setting. Real newspapers of the time would have had 5-7 narrow columns of small type.

A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC