A vast array of photographic images of the universe are available to view on the Internet. To become familiar with the concept of an ever-expanding universe, search images for these terms, sequentially: the solar system, the Milky Way, star nebula, galaxies near the Milky Way. Or, go directly to the website of Astrophotography by Takayuki Yoshida.
The solar system is the collection of eight planets and their moons in orbit around the sun, together with smaller bodies in the form of asteroids, meteoroids, and comets. Earth, our home, is the third planet from the sun.
The Milky Way is the galaxy in which we live. It is a spiral shaped galaxy that contains about 200 billion stars, including our sun.
A nebula is a massive cloud of gas and dust in outer space. A nebula is sometimes the birthplace of stars; in the Orion Nebula, new stars are still forming.
A galaxy is a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction. There are a number of galaxies close to our own Milky Way galaxy and billions of galaxies beyond. We do not know how many billions, perhaps an infinite number. And, as is evident from the images, they are remarkably beautiful.
Investigate some of the many ways humans have explained the origins of the world and humankind to encounter examples of humanity’s spirit, creativity, and pure imaginative power. One particularly useful book is In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Barry Moser (Houghton Mifflin, 1991), with twenty-five stories. You can also look at the Creation Myths website posted by the University of Georgia.