Happy 25, Hubble !!!

It’s Hubble Space Telescope‘s 25th year, the world is celebrating and why not! Hubble has been exploring the Solar System and beyond since 25 years now, providing mankind with long exposure images like no one had ever imagined. It has transformed our perspective of the universe into a realistic one, enabling our dreams to grow richer and deeper. Have you had a chance to look at all the spectacular photos that NASA has been releasing to commemorate Hubble’s 25th anniversary? Those pictures give me goosebumps like no other. If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a link to a few of the famous ones. You’ll know what I mean when you see them.

http://www.space.com/28546-hubble-space-telescope-25th-anniversary-photos.html

My favorite of the whole lot is Hubble Ultra Deep Field Image. This picture blows my mind every time and hurls me into a trance.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field, NASA

Hubble Ultra Deep Field, NASA

Every point in this picture is a galaxy by itself, some as big as our own, some much much bigger than what we can perceive. This photo alone has about 10,000 galaxies, I can’t even begin to imagine how many more are out there, how many with intelligent life forms and how many more without a trace of life. I have always read how people tend to find their lives and the world around them very meaningless and shallow when they begin to discern the vastness engulfing us, tiny beings. However, for me, everything became that much more meaningful, everything that we strive for became much more important and necessary. Yes, we as a collective bunch, can come across as stifling, always finding reasons to slit each other’s throats, egoistic and conceited to the point of destruction. But when you look at all the progress the other side of the coin has managed to achieve, you find that there is always a string of hope that we can hang on to. I believe it is this hope that has helped launch something as magnificent as the Hubble telescope which strove through inconceivable hardships, just like us, to get to where it is now. Its contributions to the scientific community cannot be overstated.

Coincidentally, I happened to celebrate my 25th birthday a week ago, yay! The world did not shower me with as much attention as it did with Hubble, but my friends sure did 😉 They gifted me a TELESCOPE !! My very own star gazing, time traveling machine!! For those of you wondering what I mean by time travel, you need to watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show “Cosmos”, like right now !!! He is a brilliant astrophysicist and a compelling host.

Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

Orion SpaceProbe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope

I moved to America about three years ago and my friends have been my family ever since. They have cared for me, looked out for me and helped me find a home away from India. We made the best of every situation, lived in the dingiest of places, cried together, spent many a nights sharing stories and climbing mountains to watch sunrise, helped each other grow out of our cocoons and make something beautiful out of our lives. We graduated, moved to different places in search of opportunities, some stayed on, settled in and yet, we think of each other every passing day. They figured how crazy I have been about astronomy, drove them crazy as well, but they seem to enjoy it so no complaints there 😉 They gifted me this beast for my birthday and I haven’t had a chance to use it yet since it’s been really cloudy, unfortunately.

For all you amateur astronomers out there(I mean really, really, amateur), this telescope seems like the best option. The Orion Spaceprobe 3 Equatorial Reflector Telescope came with a starter kit, a moon map, a book about stars and also a sky chart that I have always wanted. It is absolutely perfect in every sense to start off with. It has a 3″ aperture and 700mm focal length and you can most definitely view the Moon, planets, and even some bright nebulas and star clusters if you are lucky.

If you find that you are unable to invest in a telescope, no worries, there are various other ways you can look at the night sky. I am in love with a website called “Slooh” : http://www.slooh.com. They have two telescopes, really super cool and huge ones, installed in Canary Islands(for Northern Sky viewing) and Chile(for Southern Sky). You get to handle the telescope remotely through your desktop and reserve slots to view any object in the night sky. It is a great effort to help amateur astronomers and they also have a promotion going on, $1 for a month. I have had some of my “heart-racing” moments while looking through these telescopes. I recently joined one of the astronomy clubs in my city. They have many events to engage the public and also run an observatory a little away from the city. The members are generally very helpful and they offer to take me on their night-sky viewing parties(not parties in the literal sense). They are all very old, by old I mean “O-L-D” and set in their ways. I wish there were some youngsters or at the least another woman in the club, but I do have a lot to learn from them and it’s been really fun so far.  If you can find something similar in your city, that would be a great way to start off as well.

Well, I guess after all, 25 is not that horrific a stage to be at. I get to do things that I love and be with people who love me(I really hope they do). I am usually terrified and depressed about turning a year older around my birthday. My friend, trying to console a scared me, said “With years, responsibilities may add on, but so do life-defining and validating experiences. In that way age is reassuring” and that really did make sense. So here’s a 25 year old me, consoling a 25 year old Hubble with the very same words 😉 Happy Birthday, Hubble!!

Stay blessed!

Megha Kaiwar

Advertisements