The 2.5 billion dollar Hubble Space Telescope was built by NASA and sent into outer space in the early 90’s, carried by a rocket named STS-31. It was originally supposed to be launched into orbit nearly a decade earlier, but on January 28, 1986, the Challenger rocket disaster occurred. The Challenger rocket launched and blew up shortly after take-off. A hot flare burned through the main fuel tank, igniting the oxygen inside the ship and destroying it, killing all 7 astronauts inside and raining pieces of the burning rocket all over the ocean. Everything was put on hold for months after that. The Hubble telescope was eventually launched and is still floating around in the darkness today. It wasn’t the first one to be sent into space, but it is certainly one of the biggest, and it’s been used heavily in the field of astronomy for the past 20 some years. Over the past 2.5 decades, four missions have been tasked and completed to repair and/or improve the unit, while it was still in space. This multipurpose super telescope can view things in multiple areas on the electromagnetic spectrum, from visible light to almost ultraviolet and almost infrared. There is a special institute that sits on the John Hopkins University campus which monitors the telescope 24/7 and provides the data to astronomers. Because the telescope if floating outside of Earth’s atmosphere, the pictures it’s able to take are crystal clear and frankly tremendous.
Obviously, nothing that the average person can purchase will ever come close to delivering the type of images that Hubble can, but you can still see some amazing shots for a few thousand dollars. Science has shown that the positioning of the sun and moon during the day have an effect on tree growth, so there is a definite connection between trees and astronomy. Jason, a local tree surgeon over at albanyorganics.com has long believed this and has written numerous research articles about the connection between the environment and astronomy. As a hobby, he has built a telescope like those mentioned above on his roof. It’s made by a company called Meade and runs around $3,600 for a cheap one. It’s computerized, super easy to operate, and the quality is ridiculous (which I would expect for that kind of price). When you get one of those though, be aware that they’re special requests, so they take a long time to ship. I think it was 2-4 months if I’m not mistaken. A special tripod mounts it to the roof. I haven’t been up on the roof of his office lately, so I don’t have an exact photo of it, but this one is pretty close:
And laughably, we’re comparing it to pictures taken by Hubble that look like this:
If you have a serious interest in astronomy or viewing the crazy things that happen in outer space, this (the normal person telescope) is exactly what you need. Next time Haley’s Comet comes around, I’ll be 80 something years old, but I’ll have a great view 😉