NASA Just Shared Some Never-before-seen Space Images in Honor of Hubble's 30th Anniversary

spiral galaxy Caldwell 45, or NGC 5248

Leaving this planet for vacation may not be in the cards just yet (don’t worry, the option is coming), but you can at least mentally escape for a moment, thanks to a few stunning images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope over the last 30 years. 

In 2020, the Hubble telescope turned 30. To mark the milestone, NASA released dozens of unseen images taken by the instrument over the years, including galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae. 

However, as NASA noted, there’s something extra special about these images, and that is the fact that all the space objects can also be seen through backyard telescopes. Some, NASA added, can even be seen through binoculars or even the naked eye. “All of these celestial objects belong to a collection known to amateur astronomers as the Caldwell catalog,” NASA explained in a blog post about the new photos. The images, it added, were compiled by British amateur astronomer and science communicator Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore. His collection was then published by Sky & Telescope magazine in December 1995. Inspired by the Messier catalog, which was assembled by “French comet-hunter” Charles Messier, Caldwell’s catalog highlights an additional 109 galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae. 

“This newly released collection of more than 50 Hubble images feature 30 objects in the Caldwell catalog,” NASA added. “These images have been taken by Hubble throughout its career and used for scientific research or for engineering tests, but NASA had not fully processed the images for public release until now.”

These new images have joined Hubble’s existing gallery of Caldwell objects. Beyond the photos, NASA also provides a basic star chart to help backyard observers figure out where and when they can spot the object in the sky, along with suggestions on what equipment to use to see it all clearly. 

As NASA added, Hubble may be 30, but it’s still working just as hard as the day it launched and “continues to make groundbreaking discoveries that challenge and advance our fundamental understanding of the cosmos.” 

See the entire collection of images in Hubble’s Caldwell catalog here. 

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