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Hubble's Next Discovery — You Decide

6 Feb 2009, 05:00 UTC
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Vote to select the next objectthe telescope will view.

Four hundred years ago, Galileo improved the recently invented spyglass, pointed it toward the heavens, and saw things no one else had seen before. In celebration of this anniversary, 2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy. As part of the festivities, you have the chance help choose the Hubble telescope's next target. Cast a vote to pick an astronomical object that Hubble has never observed before. What will you choose? What wonders will the telescope reveal? In this episode, you can learn all the details of the selection process. But hurry - you must cast your vote by March 1, 2009.

Hubble press release:

Hubble's Next Discovery, You Decide

Notes


Correction: The image in the video podcast that is identified as Star-Forming Region NGC 6634 is mislabelled. It should be NGC 6334. The original press release got the number incorrect because the database it was pulled from was inaccurate. The error was not noticed until after the press release was issued. Since this vote only lasts for a month, we did not go back and correct the video podcast.


Many folks think that Galileo invented the telescope. That is wrong. The telescope, or spyglass as it was called, was invented in the Netherlands. Several folks could be credited as the inventor, but Hans Lippershey is the most famous one, as he was the first to apply for a patent in 1608. Galileo improved the device from about 3X magnification to about 30X magnification. That and other improvements made the device useful for examining astronomical objects. The word "telescope" was not coined until about 1612.


The International Year of Astronomy has adopted a motto of "The Universe: Yours to Discover." Many events designed to help you learn or re-learn the wonders of the cosmos are occurring worldwide, with special emphasis on enabling as many people as possible to look through a telescope. To look for events in your area, try the International IYA Web site, the US IYA Web site, or the NASA IYA Web site.


The low resolution black-and-white images for the candidate objects are from the Digitized Sky Survey, or DSS. Astronomers use DSS images like these to see previews of any point in the sky, in advance of taking observations with Hubble or other telescopes. The exact positioning and orientation of the telescope are programmed in advance to optimize the precious observing time. For Hubble, observing commands are uploaded about 11 days in advance. The old idea of an astronomer adjusting the telescope on the fly is just that -- an old idea.


Better images of the candidate objects can be found elsewhere on the internet. Type any object's name into an image search engine and you will find several that are higher in resolution and better in color. We chose to use only the DSS images so that each object would be presented in the same manner, and none would get an advantage due to different image sources. Just remember, no matter how good an image you may find out there, Hubble's image will be better.

Image Notes

Portrait of Galileo Galilei
Credit: Justus Sustermans

Replica of Galileo's Telescope
Credit: Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

Drawing of the Moon
Credit: Galileo, from "Siderius Nuncius", 1610, Image courtesy of History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries

Galileo's Notes on the Moons of Jupiter
Credit: Galileo Galilei, image courtesy of Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Galilean Moons of Jupiter
Credit: Galileo Mission, NASA

International Year of Astronomy Logo
Credit: IYA2009

Hubble Space Telescope
Credit: NASA

Star-Forming Region NGC 6334
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

Planetary Nebula NGC 6072
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

Planetary Nebula NGC 40
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

Spiral Galaxy NGC 5172
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

Edge-on Galaxy NGC 4289
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

Interacting Galaxies Arp 274
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

Hubble's Next Discovery Montage
Credit: Digitized Sky Survey (DSS), STScI/AURA, and Palomar/Caltech, and UKSTU/AAO

100 Hours of Astronomy Logo
Credit: IYA2009/100 Hours of Astronomy

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