•  Cernan Earth and Space Center

    Through the Eyes of Hubble

    Grade Level: 5th grade and up 
    Length: 43 minutes
     
    Through the Eyes of Hubble is a multimedia program that combines stars, video, panoramic scenes, planetarium special effects and numerous photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to describe that orbiting observatory's most recent discoveries in both planetary and stellar astronomy. Through the Eyes of Hubble was produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh and the Cernan Earth and Space Center. 
     
    Ever since humans first gazed at the stars above, we have tried to understand the universe we live in. Through the Eyes of Hubble describes the evolution of the telescope and, with it, our improving knowledge of the cosmos. In the 1600s, Galileo's first telescope revealed the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus and craters on the moon. His telescope also revealed the true nature of the band of light in the sky known as the Milky Way; Galileo clearly saw that it was comprised of countless stars. 
     
    Telescopes continued to improve. In the early 20th century, using the 100-inch Mount Wilson telescope, Edwin Hubble was the first astronomer to show that spiral nebula were in fact distant galaxies, similar in many ways to our own Milky Way. Unfortunately, ground-based telescopes are limited by the Earth's atmosphere, which distorts images in much the same way that water in a swimming pool does. What astronomers dreamed of was a telescope that was unaffected by the Earth's atmosphere. 
     
    Seventy years after Edwin Hubble's discovery, a large telescope was finally put into Earth's orbit, but problems were soon discovered with the primary mirror of the great telescope. Although much scientific research was done with the imperfect optics of the Hubble Space Telescope, its full potential would have to wait for a 1993 servicing mission, which Through the Eyes of Hubble describes in detail. In that servicing mission, shuttle astronauts installed new instruments and optical devices to correct its deficiencies and bring the Hubble Space Telescope to its full potential. 
     
    With its newly perfected vision, the Hubble Space Telescope has made a range of exciting discoveries, which are described in Through the Eyes of Hubble. These include the following: 
    • a giant storm in Saturn's clouds
    • new cloud features and additional moons orbiting Uranus
    • the disappearance of the Great Dark Spot on Neptune
    • the unique collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter
    • star forming regions in the Orion Nebula
    • the curious remnants of dying stars, including black holes
    • the expansion and ultimate fate of the universe.
    A brief question-and-answer period follows the presentation of Through the Eyes of Hubble.