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Happy Birthday, Hubble; No cake but NASA's space telescope still peers back in time

April 24, 2010 |  7:08 pm

NASA Hubble a star nursery NGC 602

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has a birthday this weekend. Twenty years ago it was launched from the Kennedy Space Center to peer back in time with the most amazing photographs. That's a mere snap of the fingers in galactic time.

For a little perspective, the gap in the clouds on the left is about one trillion miles wide.

Some of the images on these photos don't exist anymore. It took the light from them a million....

...light years, traveling at the speed of 186,000 miles per second, to reach the laser-like vision of Hubble floating above the distracting light and distortions of Earth's atmosphere.

The image above shows a grouping known as NGC620, an actual star nursery within these clouds of gas and dust, some moving many thousands of miles an hour.

NASA Hubble Space Telescope spots 2 galaxies M81 and M82 10 million light years away

These galaxies -- known as M81 and M82 -- are 10 million light years away and have nothing to do with the recent rancorous healthcare debate. A light year is almost 6 trillion miles.

Hubble Space Telescope Floating above the Blue Earth Hubble 3D Imax

The Hubble telescope, named for American astronomer Edwin Hubble, temporarily tethered to a space shuttle for repairs, hovers more than 300 miles above Earth.

NASA Hubble captuires the chaos of Orion

With its laser-like focus Hubble captures the celestial chaos of Orion.

So sharp is the telescope's vision, that orbiting the Earth at 17,000 miles an hour it can still focus and stay focused on pins of light invisible to the naked eye. Astronauts liken it to spotting a dime atop the Washington Monument from the Empire State Building in New York City.

More Hubble images over here.

NASANightimeNAmer

Nothing to do with Hubble but cool nonetheless. North America as seen from space. Not much electrical conservation going on this night.

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Obama launches his asteroid space plan to the thrill of several on this planet

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: All NASA except the Hubble Telescope itself from "Imax Hubble 3D."

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