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Astronomy

Cosmic Calendar Page 1 of 4

Name _____________________________________ Date __________________ Period ________

COSMIC CALENDAR
In this activity, we will try to gain a better understanding of the history and age of the universe.
Answer the following questions to the best of your ability before beginning the investigation.
Imagine that this one-year calendar represents the entire history of the universethe so-called Cosmic
Calendar first introduced by Carl Sagan in his book, The Dragons of Eden (1977). In such a calendar, the first
moment of January 1st represents the Big Bang, the cosmic event that marks the beginning of time. Today
is represented by the very last moment of December 31st.
On your own, guess where the following events fall on the Cosmic Calendar.
Formation of the Sun

___________________________

Prehistoric fish crawl out of water

___________________________

Appearance of first dinosaurs

___________________________

Appearance of first humans (Homo sapiens)

___________________________

Birth of the Roman Empire

___________________________

Your Birth

___________________________

Astronomy

Cosmic Calendar Page 2 of 4

Your goal is to determine the "dates" that the following important events in the history of the universe
would occur on the cosmic calendar. Fill in the table with the calculated dates. You must research at least
three additional events, and include them on your calendar.
Consider 2015 (calendar above), which is NOT a leap year. Carl Sagan based his cosmic calendar on universe
that was 15 billion years old. Today, astronomers have measured the age of the universe to be 13.8 billion years.
Use the space below for calculations.
First, figure out how many years are in each unit of time in our cosmic calendar year, and record below.

1 DAY on the cosmic calendar is worth ____________________ years in the history of the universe.

1 HOUR on the cosmic calendar is worth ____________________ years in the history of the universe.

1 MINUTE on the cosmic calendar is worth ____________________ years in the history of the universe.

1 SECOND on the cosmic calendar is worth ____________________ years in the history of the universe.

Astronomy

Cosmic Calendar Page 3 of 4

EVENT

# YEARS AGO

Big Bang

13.8 billion

Formation of first stars & galaxies

~13 billion

Formation of disk of Milky Way

~9 billion

Formation of Solar System

4.6 billion

First life on Earth

# DAYS AGO

(min, sec, etc)

"DATE"

(and time, if appropriate)

Jan 1, 2015

~3.8 billion

Appearance of first multi-cellular life

~2 billion

Appearance of first fish

500 million

Prehistoric fish crawl out of water

400 million

Appearance of first dinosaurs

240 million

Appearance of first mammals

200 million

Appearance of first birds

150 million

Death of dinosaurs from giant impact

65 million

First human ancestors walk upright

~4 million

Appearance of homo sapiens

200,000

Modern humans migrate out of Africa

100,000

Birth of the Roman Empire


Invention of the telescope

Now

Jan 1, 2016 (midnight)

Astronomy

Cosmic Calendar Page 4 of 4

Reflect
Use your completed table to answer the following questions.
1. Were your predictions accurate? What, if anything, surprised you about the Cosmic Calendar?

2. Explain how you calculated the date from the actual timeline of events.

3. Why do you think it took so long for the more interesting events to occur?

4. Do you think the universe has an ending? If so, how do you think it might end? When do you think it
might end?