This high-interest video, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), describes why the Hubble is considered the most important scientific instrument of all time.
The pdf contains a two-sided video worksheet consisting of 44 multiple choice questions, answer keys, a list of vocabulary, and a word search. You will need to obtain a DVD of the video, or use the PBS Internet site or YouTube
Background: The first space-based telescope was named for American astronomer Edwin Hubble who discovered the existence of other galaxies and expansion of the universe. This second discovery led to the proposition that the universe had a beginning, what we now call the Big Bang. The video describes the history behind the people who invented the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and the courageous astronauts who launched and maintained the orbiting telescope. It also describes the ignominious beginning of the Hubble when it was launched with an incorrectly ground primary mirror, and the agonizing efforts of astronomers and astronauts to repair Hubble in space. Despite these initial setbacks, the Hubble Space Telescope went on to provide 25 years of exciting discoveries and observations about the planets, stars, and universe.
The Hubble Space Telescope has answered questions that have been asked for thousands of years. For example, Hubble has determined the age of the universe (13.7 billion years), the number of galaxies in the universe (200 billion), how planetary systems form, and how stars die as planetary nebulas and supernovas.
The telescope has also led to some incredible discoveries in cosmology, the study of the universe. For example, the Hubble has revealed that the universe is not only expanding, but that the rate of expansion itself is increasing-the universe may eventually fly apart! This mysterious force causing the increasing expansion of the universe is termed dark energy, and it makes up 70% of the universe-and astronomers do not know what it is!
Evidence that supermassive black holes exist at the centers of most galaxies, including our Milky Way, has been obtained using the HST. The telescope has also been used to discover the presence of water in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet 729 trillion miles from earth.
The video also highlights some of the famous images taken by the space telescope such as the iconic Pillars of Creation, and the 25th Anniversary image of the Andromeda Galaxy displaying 100 million stars. Hubble's images of planetary nebulas, a type of gas cloud created by dying stars, are described as celestial "artworks" each as unique as a snowflake. The video delivers dozens of fabulous "eye candy" Hubble images of galaxies, star clusters, and nebulas.