In April 1990, our Universe opened up to us in a whole new way.
That’s when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched and used, the most powerful space telescope ever created.
Although the instrument started out very hard, Hubble, in April this year, has been in operation for a full three decades. And, in celebration of this magnificent milestone, NASA has just given us a wealth of space: 50 newly processed images of materials from the Caldwell catalog, released to the public for the first time.
Cosmic materials can be classified in many different ways. What is special about the Caldwell catalog is that it is only objects that astronomers see in the background. Grab a telescope (or, in some cases, your own two eyes), and you’ll find these things for yourself in the night sky.
The Caldwell catalog, compiled by amateur astronomer and writer Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, was first published in 1995 in 1995 Sky & Telescope, intended to be part of Messier ‘s catalog of 110 objects compiled by the French astronaut Charles Messier in the 18th century.
Messier, famously, compiled his catalog out of harassment. He was interested in finding comets; the catalog was a list of strange things that were it was not comets, so comet hunters could be safely ignored.
Ironically, it became a useful list of clear targets for amateur astronauts to view, including nebulae, star clusters, and nearby galaxies.
The Caldwell catalog, which contains 109 items, contains 28 nebulae, 46 browsers, and 35 galaxies that were not included in the Messier catalog, but are still of great interest to anyone who enjoy watching skyward at night.
There is joy in discovering these things yourself, and seeing them, light years away, with your own eyes. There is also joy in comparing your own ideas to what Hubble has seen with the much more powerful “eye”. And, well, they’re just glorious.
Thirty objects of Caldwell appear in NASA’s 50 new images, with some items appearing in more than one image.
“Because of Hubble’s detailed view, some of his paintings do not capture the whole of Caldwell’s material, sometimes instead moving into collections of young stars in the arms of a spinning, star-shaped galaxy on the edge of a browser. , or the zombie star at the heart of a nebula, “Vanessa Thomas of NASA ‘s Goddard Space Flight Center wrote on NASA’ s website.
“But in other cases, a mosaic of Hubble’s ideas come together to create a complete or almost complete picture of the celestial wonder.”
In total, the Hubble Caldwell catalog – first published in December of 2019 – now contains 87 of Caldwell ‘s 109 items. The space telescope didn’t pay attention to Messier’s catalog, either; Hubble has imaged 96 of the 110 Messier items. Everything in both catalogs includes a visual guide on how to see it in the skies.
Together, the two collections contain some of the most beautiful images of the place around us – an intriguing journey into the wonders of the cosmos.
And it’s a testament to the priceless treasure that Hubble has been like.
You can see more amazing photos in the full Caldwell collection and the Messier collection on the NASA website.