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The Hubble Telescope- an Eye to the Universe

Updated on November 8, 2009

The Background

I have always been fascinated with pictures of galaxies and Nebulae and how small we are compared with the universe. The Hubble telescope has contributed greatly to the quantity and quality of such pictures. The Hubble Telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, an American Astronomer who died in 1953 nearly 40 Years before the Hubble Telescope became a reality. This was appropriate since Hubble was in charge of the team that established that there were galaxies beyond our own in about 1929. Before that we actually believed that our galaxy was "the Universe". Conceptually this is like discovering that the earth orbits the Sun when every one believed the earth was the center of the universe. (Note that this was less than 100 years ago.)

The conception of the Hubble Telescope began in 1946 when an astrophysicist named Dr. Lyman Spitzer Jr. Came up with the idea that if we put a telescope in space we could eliminate the problem of distortion caused by the Earth's atmosphere and vastly improve our ability to view "outer space". This idea was sound but impossible given the technology of that time. However in the 60's and 70's with the development of the space program Spitzer started lobbying for this telescope to be built. In 1975 NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency) started working on plans for such a telescope, and in1977 Congress approved the funds to begin construction.  The telescope was not sent into orbit until April 24, 1990 due to all of the red tape and barriers along the way. After it was up and running Scientists discovered that one of the mirrors was flawed and that the pictures were no better than those of Earth bound telescopes. This was very disheartening to the Scientific community.

An over simplified explanation of the solution was they had to give the telescope glasses or corrective lenses. In 1993 a space mission was sent to give Hubble its "glasses" and the results were astounding. Hubble has since been delivering astonishing pictures of the wonders of the Universe. The following Video series is a record of The Hubble Telescope's story as documented by the ESA.

The Story of the Hubble Telescope

The wonders recorded by the Hubble Telescope are available for posters, screen savers and just places when one wants to show how grand and wonderful the Universe really is. In 1995 it took 10 days to record an incredible image which shows the great expanse of the Universe in one picture. The following video documents this truly impressive "photo" and embellishes its significance to mankind. It kind of makes us feel a little small.

An Amazing Picture

The Story is Drawing to an End

The life expectancy of the Hubble Telescope is nearing it's close and it will be replaced but the pictures it has delivered to us are many and diverse.  I for one could spend hours studying them and not grow weary of the task.(I always was a little strange)  If you have not seen many of them yet I recommend "Googling" for some of these photos. You can get them on your screen saver from webshots.com for free. There is also a great deal more information on the NASA site as well as on YouTube. I hope you enjoy them.

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