April 24, 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Telescope into Earth orbit. In the 25 years since the space shuttle Discovery deployed it into space, Hubble has helped change the way we look at the universe. The pictures it has sent back to earth have allowed us the see more clearly, and much farther than we ever could have from the planet’s surface. The first of a “fleet” of telescopes sent beyond the limiting effects of Earth’s atmosphere, Hubble was an incredible advancement in astronomical technology, and it led the way to many more advancements in astronomy, extra-vehicular skills for astronauts, problem-solving skills for the technicians and scientists working with it on the ground and in orbit, and an incredible up-surgence in general interest in astronomy and the images it has provided of the universe in which we live to people all over the world .
In honor of the Hubble’s upcoming birthday, NASA has created a series of free webinars about the Hubble Telescope throughout the month of April, and beyond. The next few are:
Monday, April 20: Hubble Space Telescope 25th Celebration: Hubble Deep Field
Wednesday, April 22: Hubble Space Telescope 25th Celebration: Hubble, Sofia and Your Cosmic Connection to the Universe
Thursday, April 23: Hubble Space Telescope 25th Celebration: NASA Space Telescopes — Past, Present and Future of STEM Exploration
To register for any or all of these webinars (which are incredibly well presented and interesting), click here.
In addition to the educator webinars throughout the month, there will be special events at various locations in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, April 23-25, which will be broadcast on NASA television. NASA will release a new 3-D model of Hubble, which will be available for download to 3-D printers, the IMAX movie, “Hubble 3D” will be shown at locations across the nation, and images from the Hubble will be shown in Times Square several times each hour for the last week of April. There will also be other events taking place later in the year. To learn more about the Hubble’s 25th anniversary and/or to take a look at the many resources that have been created about its history, mission, and contributions, take a look at the site NASA has created: Hubble 25.
Among many other resources there is a NASA produced e-book, A Quarter-Century of Discovery From the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as other resources of interest, including PowerPoint presentations, other e-books and kindle downloads, interactive PDFs, and videos. There is a page devoted to children’s activities related to the telescope here, which includes coloring sheets, word puzzles, connect the dots, and quite a number of other activities which would be useful in programming. There’s “Make a Galaxy,” “A Myth of Your Own,” “Make Your Own Constellation,” and “Forget Measuring, Just Fold,” which I am looking forward to trying in one of my own programs.
The Hubble Telescope also has its own website where there is a plethora of information about the telescope, the missions which deployed it into space and serviced it over the years, the remarkable images it has transmitted to earth, the advances in science and technology which came about because of it, etc.
There are even models of the telescope ranging from moderate to quite complex, which can be used in programming and displays. The models can be found here, at another site devoted to the Hubble Telescope, HubbleSite.
A few years ago, I printed and built a version of the paper model offered on HubbleSite. I built it as part of a space history display and used it in some of my Summer Reading Club programming then, and again last year, when I offered some astronomy focused programs. The participants, both young and adult, are always very interested in the models. They are something tangible that people can touch and study from various angles, which allows them to better understand what the real telescope is like.
To learn about other NASA webinars for educators and to receive regular updates about available resources from NASA, register here for their newsletter. The NASA Educator EXPRESS newsletter comes out about once a week, and there is usually at least one webinar per week. Interested people can also check the NASA website, which was newly upgraded this weekend, for future educational opportunities.