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  • Telescope Anniversaries and 'Births'
    Posted by Heather Goss 2:38 AM on Apr 28, 2010

    If you're the kind of space enthusiast who can skip the fancy rockets, space probes and theoretical physics for a turn at the original astronomical instrument, there's been plenty for you to eat up lately.  Telescopes of all kinds are being celebrated this week, starting first and foremost with the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.

    We won't go through the two-decade Hubble saga, but we will point you to the many galleries of images that popped up in dedication this week, from Hubble's own site, to National Geographic's Astronomer Picks, to Wired's background contest, and even Google Doodle getting in on the action.  We also recommend Space Gizmo's 15 minute Hubble history, and highly recommend you take an afternoon to see Hubble 3D at your local IMAX.  Just to bring it home, the Hubble team released a brand new image this week, the majestic Carina Nebula, seen below.

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    Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

    This is on the heels of the Solar Dynamic Observatory's first light last Wednesday. To say these images are mind-blowing redefines the colloquialism.  Collecting over a terrabyte of data every day, SDO will collect not only amazing detail, but enough quantity to create more than just still photographs: we get high-def video.  Space Gizmo collects the best from the first batch.

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    A composite image of the sun in the extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.  Credit: NASA / Goddard / SDO AIA Team

    Ground based telescopes are getting plenty of attention, too.  The European Southern Observatory just announced yesterday that they've chosen a site for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), soon to be the largest telescope ever built.  The ESO eventually settled on Chile's Cerro Armazones mountain in the Atacama Desert -- already home to three other ESO observatories.  The E-ELT's mirror will stretch 42 meters across and should start operations in 2018.  

    Since we're on the subject, take a look at this new image of the Cat's Paw Nebula released from ESO's Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at the Panaral Observatory, also in Chile; the European Space Agency's Planck space observatory views complex star formation in the Orion Nebula; the Chandra X-ray Observatory gives Einstein a high-five; and Space.com discusses the future James Webb Space Telescope and why space-based telescopes are better than ground-based telescopes.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be rotating my desktop background.

    Tags: os99, telescope, hubble, eso, sdo

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