Saturn, with its famous and impressive rings glowing in visible light; an enormous spiral galaxy that is 31 million light years away; a planetary nebula filled with incredibly hot gases hurtling along at more than 600,000 miles per hour.
These are just a few of the images that visitors to the nearby Arizona Museum of Natural History can see as part of The Hubble Space Telescope—New Views of the Universe exhibit that is being shown in one of the museum’s galleries from now until early January.
The exhibit includes four 6 foot by 9 foot photos of deep space objects including planets and nebulae, as well as more than 50 smaller photos.
Kathy Eastman, a south Tempe resident, has worked at the museum for the past 10 years as curator of education. She said the Hubble exhibit allows visitors to see new views of the universe that are as beautiful as they are amazing.
“The photos that the telescope has sent back are just wonderful,” she said. “It helps make science and astronomy accessible to people.”
Eastman said that the Hubble exhibit is already quite popular with visitors, who all seem to appreciate the photos as well as the interactive sites that feature interpreting telescopes and the tools of astronomy.
“The public is really enjoying the Hubble exhibition – everything from the dazzling backlit deep space photo panels to the opportunity to learn about science in action,” Eastman said, adding that students and faculty from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration have also been extremely interested in the exhibit.
“The space shuttle just completed its last mission, and there’s a lot of interest in space now,” she said.
Eastman, who is also working on another current exhibit called Vanishing Circles, which focuses on the rare and endangered species that live in the Sonoran Desert Region, said that although the museum is well-known for its impressive display of dinosaur bones and fossils, the facility truly does offer something for everyone.
In fact, Eastman said, the Hubble exhibit, which she described as “phenomenal,” helped influence her own interest in space.
“It’s just incredible that we have access to this wonderful material that all people can see,” she said. “When we first got the photos here I thought ‘Wow, this is so interesting,’ and to meet the people from NASA who are so passionate about what they are doing helped inspire me, too.”
Arizona Museum of History is at 53 N. Macdonald St., Mesa. Information: 480-644-2230 or http://www.azmnh.org.