In anticipation of the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th anniversary on April 24th, NASA is padding its Instagram all weekend with short movie clips celebrating the scope that’s brought us some of our most iconic and awe-inspiring images of the universe.
This is just the latest example of a Hubblemania campaign which is now kicking into high gear. This hype fest won’t slow down until after Hubble’s actual birthday, when NASA will unveil the official Hubble 25th anniversary image at the Newseum in Washington amidst a weekend of celebrations.
The commemoration is well justified: Through Hubble, we’ve watched stars coalesce from dust, peered 10 billion years into the past, and unravelled some of the deepest mysteries of physics. But that’s not all. Here’s what NASA has to say about the celebrity telescope that’s sparked our imaginations and shaped our culture:
In the past 25 years, Hubble has become, in essence, a superstar.
Musicians love Hubble. The band Pearl Jam has borrowed a famous Hubble snapshot, the Hourglass Nebula, for the cover of their 2000 album “Binaural.” This haunting nebula has also found its way into videogames, the film Angels and Demons, and onto the front cover of National Geographic. While you may not know the Carina Nebula by its name, but you might recognize its image as the album cover of “Andromeda” by the California Guitar Trio. U2 used images of the V838 Monocerotis light echo in their 2009 music video “Get On your Boots.”
Hubble is also a movie star.
The telescope made a cameo in the 2013 film, Gravity for the sole purpose of being destroyed: Director Alfonso Cuarón obliterated the cherished icon while it was being repaired by astronauts in his movie. The vivid backgrounds in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy are reminiscent of Hubble’s colourful photographs; in many scenes, outer space is alive with nebula-like swirling masses of red, purple, and gold. In comparison, many films that were released before Hubble—like the first three instalments of Star Wars in 1977, 1980 and 1983—show space as mostly black sky with a few scattered stars. Hubble’s discoveries have transformed the silver screen, together with the public’s view of space: from black and void, to colourful and beautiful.
We thought we’d give Hubble a shoutout here on Giz by sharing a few of its most celebrated images:
Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation, arguably Hubble’s most iconic image.
Festive looking nearby planetary nebula called NGC 5189.
The Sombrero galaxy, whose hallmark white core is encircled by thick lanes of dust.
The Cat’s Eye Nebula, looking as eye-of-Sauron-like as ever.
Light Echoes From Red Supergiant Star V838 Monocerotis
The Jovian moon Ganymede sweeping across Jupiter’s Great Red Spot gives the uncanny impression of Jupiter staring back at us.
Starburst cluster shows celestial fireworks.
All images are credited to: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). You can check out plenty more NASA Hubble images over on Instagram and Hubble’s main website. Read the full NASA press release here and learn more about Hubble’s 25th anniversary events here.