And you can see for yourself with a new exhibition of space photography at the Dennos Museum Center entitled, “Heavens Above: Photographs of the Universe from the Hubble Space Telescope,“ which runs Sept. 28 Feb. 29, 2004.
Orbiting 375 miles above the Earth, the Hubble Space Telescope is unlocking the secrets of the universe through its observations of more than 25,000 stars, nebula, planets and galaxies -- and that‘s just the beginning. With pin-point precision, powerful optics, and state-of-the-art instruments it produces spectacular views that cannot be obtained from ground-based telescopes which are hampered by the earth‘s atmosphere. As of March, 2000, it had taken more than 330,000 photos. Circling the globe every 97 minutes, it has traveled more than 1.5 billion miles over the past 13 years -- the distance from Earth to Uranus.
Designed in the ‘70s and launched in 1990 at a cost of $1.5 billion, the Hubble was placed in orbit by the space shuttle Discovery. NASA scientists were heart-broken to learn, however, that there was a spherical aberration on the telescope‘s primary mirror, which wrecked its vision. That initial failure sent political shock waves through the space agency as NASA became a target for a number of politicians.
Over the next few years, however, space shuttle astronauts installed corrective optics and gyroscopes on the Hubble in a series of dramatic missions which got the telescope working properly. Shuttle servicing missions are ongoing and planned into the future in order to install new sensing and visual technology to help scientists in their exploration of the universe.
The scope was named after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, who was a staff member (from 1919) at Mt. Wilson Observatory. Hubble used Mt. Wilson‘s 100-inch telescope to discover that there are large-scale galaxies beyond the Milky Way and that they are distributed almost uniformly in all directions. In what is now known as Hubble‘s Law, he was the first to offer evidence supporting the theory of the expanding universe.
The Dennos exhibit features 30 breathtaking, high-resolution color transparencies of planets, galaxies, star clusters and other deep-space phenomena. The exhibition was organized by the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute and the Midland Center for the Arts.
The Hubble exhibit kicks off a season of exceptional photography at the Dennos. Future shows will include an exhibition on the history of photography, including what it believed to be the first photograph ever created. On November 13, rock music photographer Tom Wright will host the world premiere of his exhibition, “An Assortment of Used Rock and Roll and Cultural Photography,“ which will also feature musical artifacts from the hey-day the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The Dennos Museum Center is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1-5 p.m. Admission is $4 adults, $2 for children and free to museum members.