By Edward J Weiler. Hardback. UK Price: £19.99 Publisher: Abrams
Twenty years ago a telescope was launched into space that changed mankind’s perceptions of the universe. Hubble was intended as a scientific tool that would observe the heavens free from cloud and atmospheric distortions. However it swiftly became an icon of our times and a powerful ambassador for astronomy.
Hubble’s spectacular images were a public relations dream, not just providing scientists with data, but producing inspiring pictures that decorated newspapers, magazines, posters and computer desktops. Now a collection of the finest has been compiled by the man at the heart of the Hubble project.
Edward J Weiler became Hubble’s chief scientist in 1979 and held that position for 20 years. Before that he worked as researcher for Lyman Spitzer, who first proposed such a space telescope back in 1946.
Weiler gives a fascinating account of Hubble’s history including that moment of horror when they realised its early images were out of focus due to a tiny error in the curve of its main mirror.
How that was solved, by fitting the equivalent of spectacles in the first of five daring shuttle servicing missions, is a triumphant tale. Sight restored, Hubble began taking perfect images, shown here in page after page of beautiful colour.
They range from planets close to home, through star clusters and nebulae, to far distant galaxies seen soon after the Big Bang. Many classics are here including the Pillars of Creation and the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.
It is true that you could find all these images free on the web. But to have them in such a sumptuous collection from such as key figure makes this a book any astronomer would love to own.
Click on this link to buy Hubble: A Journey Through Space and Time in the United States.
Click on this link to buy Hubble: A Journey Through Space and Time in the UK.