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B What was the reaction to the Hubble telescope's pictures?

  1. Sep 14, 2017 at 3:52 AM #1
    I was just wondering what the reaction was from people and the media at the time after hubble's telescope took it's famous images?

    If I am not mistaken hubble's images where one of a kind showing that there where a lot of galaxies and whatnot out there.

    Was it advertised on the news a long time or was it just briefly shown? And how did people react? I tried to search for reactions to hubbles images but couldn't find anything just the reaction from nasa.
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  3. Sep 14, 2017 at 4:06 AM #2


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    Which images are you referring to? The HST has taken many famous images over its lifespan. The initial images taken just after the HST was launched are not "pretty", as the mirror for the telescope was ground to the wrong shape and suffered from fairly serious aberrations. It wasn't until 1993 that corrective optics were installed and high-quality images could be obtained.
  4. Sep 14, 2017 at 10:07 AM #3


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    I believe the op is thinking of the Hubble deep field images. Scientists [and the media] were understandably quite impressed. As noted, the early Hubble images were pretty underwhelming. That caused a bit of a panic when it was realized the mirror was misfigured. It prompted an historic shuttle mission to install a corrector, which was heralded as one of the greatest successes of the shuttle and extended the life of both programs.. The Hubble subsequently earned accolades as a wonder of the scientific world . Hopes are its successor, the JWST, will be half as astounding.
  5. Sep 14, 2017 at 1:49 PM #4


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    It's amazing that the HST has been operational for more than 27 years. That's almost older than myself, but I'm betting @phinds already had his "old man pants" by that point.

    *Old man pants are those really comfy pants you wear around the house all the time. The one's you've had for so long they've molded themselves to fit you correctly. They're also the ones that, for some unknown reason, supremely embarrass your wife when you wear them out and about.
  6. Sep 14, 2017 at 3:42 PM #5


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    Hey, I was old when the pyramids were young but I don't WEAR old man pants, I just get grumpy.
  7. Sep 15, 2017 at 10:38 AM #6


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    Whilst discussing Hubble I thought I may as well toss in some info I've collected.
    There is talk of another service mission using the Dream Chaser when it comes online. This appears to be a contingency plan in case JWST has problems.
    To say the least, for example this shot of M-15 is typical of the quality before the famous fix..
    Page #44 tells the story rather well.
    Since then Hubble has produced hundreds of thousands of images and well over 100 terabytes of data, not too shabby considering its beginning.
  8. Sep 15, 2017 at 10:39 PM #7
    The reaction was pretty much unanimous astonishment, excitement, and wonder. It's interesting that Robert Williams, the director of the project, went ahead with it despite the number of colleagues who tried to discourage him from wasting 10 days of expensive telescope time on what could have been just an empty region of space. The potential for yet another Hubble public-relations embarrassment was huge. There was no guarantee the final images would show much of anything.

    I remember reading somewhere that when the original Deep Field image was presented publicly for the first time - at a session of the American Astronomical Society in 1996 - the entire auditorium went absolutely silent at first in pure shock. It was said a lone voice was heard whispering in that silence, "My God...we know nothing." I can't document that, and probably the story was either apocryphal or somewhat dramatized. Nonetheless, it fairly well sums up the overall reaction of a majority of astronomers and astrophysicists.

    As far as the rest of the world, well, National Geographic put it like this: "The image now known as the Hubble Deep Field captivated pretty much everyone. To say it was a triumph would be an understatement." (http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/24/when-hubble-stared-at-nothing-for-100-hours/)

    The owner of the Deep Astronomy website wrote: "Probably more than any other image I've ever seen, the Hubble Deep Field has profoundly changed my perspective on the universe and our place in it. When I first saw the image, and then learned how it was taken, I was forever changed by it."

    That's not even an unusual reaction. The image, and the story of its creation, was all over the mainstream media. Millions of people downloaded it to share, use as their desktop background, or just stare at more closely. It moved people, intellectually and spiritually, some of them in an almost religious sense. Even people who hated science were amazed at how beautiful it was, astonished that what it showed were not stars but galaxies, "strewn like jewels" across infinity.

    You might enjoy browsing the book, Hubble Deep Field: How a Photo Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Universe (by Don Nardo; with content advisor Dr. Frank Summers, Outreach Astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute). The beginning, for example, describes the scepticism and opposition the project faced, which makes the final result all the more marvelous.

    Portions can be read for free on Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=M...ce=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    A few quotes from one news release at the time:
    "Gazing into this small field, Hubble uncovered a bewildering assortment of at least 1,500 galaxies at various stages of evolution."

    "The variety of galaxies we see is amazing. In time these Hubble data could turn out to be the double helix of galaxy formation. We are clearly seeing some of the galaxies as they were more than ten billion years ago, in the process of formation."

    "As the images have come up on our screens, we have not been able to keep from wondering if we might somehow be seeing our own origins in all of this. The past ten days have been an unbelievable experience."

    "One of the great legacies of the Hubble Telescope will be these deep images of the sky showing galaxies to the faintest possible limits with the greatest possible clarity from here out to the very horizon of the universe."

    The image data are so important (the astronomical equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one scientist quipped) they are being made available immediately to astronomers around the world to pursue research on the formation of galaxies and for probing basic questions about the structure and evolution of the universe.
  9. Sep 15, 2017 at 10:50 PM #8
    Wow that gave me chills! I will definitely check out those books thank you.
  10. Sep 16, 2017 at 2:56 PM #9


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    HUDF is the background image on my website. Hubble took plenty of pretty pictures, but those two speak to everyone.
  11. Sep 19, 2017 at 9:45 AM #10
    It was so profound that it's forced astronomers to change their estimates of the number of galaxies in the known universe to be in the trillions not billions. They have now assumed that there are galaxies out of view even beyond those seen and based on that estimate changed their thoughts. It has effected non-astronomers too. We just returned from Hawaii. The Hyatt Regency Resort in Maui has a resident astronomer and has two nice Celestrons permanently set up on the roof. They have a star watch program which my wife and I attended. One of the other guests, just a regular guy, said he wasn't really interested in the Cosmos until seeing that picture. It blew his mind (mine too). One of the telescopes, a 15" Casegrain, made a beautiful image of the Herculean Cluster. I have a small Meade ETX-125, but it can't resolve that.
  12. Sep 19, 2017 at 11:19 AM #11
    So they took a picture of an empty patch of sky and found fainter galaxies.... well what did the media expect, a sign saying 'this is the end of the Universe'?
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