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25th Anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope

For me I think it was watching the sky at night with Patrick Moore that inspired my interest in the night sky. However I think that it is the Hubble space telescope that has fascinated me the most, the pictures are certainly amazing. This wonderful piece of technology has helped mankind’s understanding of the nature of our expanding universe. It has also provided observations leading to new theories and greater understanding of our solar system and distant planets.

Now NASA and ESA are celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope's silver anniversary of 25 years in space by unveiling some of nature's own fireworks — a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2.

The cluster resides inside a vibrant stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29, located 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

The comparatively young, 2-million-year-old star cluster contains some of our galaxy's hottest, brightest, and most massive stars. The largest stars are unleashing a torrent of ultraviolet light and hurricane-force winds that etch away the enveloping hydrogen gas cloud. This creates a fantasy celestial landscape of pillars, ridges, and valleys.

The telescope its self is full of innovate technology with the use of advanced composite structures for the metering truss, focal plane structure, and the three Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS) yielded unprecedented dimensional stability on-orbit and predictable ground-to-orbit changes.

The FGSs are integral to mission success as they sense when the Hubble starts to drift off the science target. The sensors are so sensitive that the drift they would sense is equivalent to detecting the width of a human hair more than four miles away. The FGSs send this information to the pointing control system provided by Lockheed Martin, which then corrects for any drift. The result is a very stable observing platform enabling long-duration science observations with very little blur.

According to NASA, Hubble has made more than one million observations, and astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 12,700 scientific papers.