Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy 19th Birthday Hubble!

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched 19 years ago today.

I was here in Baltimore, watching in the Auditorium at the Space Telescope Science Institute. I had just spent 2 weeks hanging out in Florida waiting - I had a shuttle launch pass - but the launch delay was longer than my vacation time. Ah, well, it turned out OK as I was surrounded by all my colleagues who had ALSO waited years for it to launch. Lots of cheering ensued, followed by ordering lunch in so we could celebrate a little while working.

Did we know what anxieties (with the mirror) were to come? No. We knew whatever happened - it would be new and unexpected and had the potential to revolutionize our view of the universe. I happen to think the satellite has lived up to her potential. :)

Side note - this is the International Year of Astronomy, marking 400 years since Galileo's telescope opened our eyes to the planets and worlds beyond Earth. PBS is running a documentary called 400 Years of the Telescope, and there are lots of commemorative events going on all over the world.

Go out and check out your night sky tonight!

See if you can find a familiar star or planet!

Think about Galileo, toting his little telescope all over Europe - he's the original Street Corner Astronomer. (Yes, Herman Heyn is following in Galileo's footsteps.)

Think also about Hubble and her buddies both in orbit and watching from the high mountains - they bring us Great Stuff.

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