Hubble Telescope's amazing images of universe, now in coffee table book

Taschen's lavish tome is a stellar celebration of 25 years of Hubble's stargazing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 12:34pm

Since the dawn of time, ancient stargazers and astronomers such as Galileo and Copernicus had to make do with a blurred view of the heavens through Earth's atmopshere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet.

But all that changed on April 24, 1990, when the Hubble Space Telescope was launched from Kennedy Space Centre.

From its perch in orbit about 560 kilometres above Earth, the telescope - roughly the size of a Hong Kong single-decker bus - for the first time provided a clear, unobstructed view of the universe, and the images it sent back over the following 25 years exceeded even the wildest expectations of its designers.

To mark the 25th anniversary, boutique publisher Taschen has collected some of the space telescope's most remarkable images in the coffee table book Expanding Universe, which not only dazzles with its technicolour portraits of distant galaxies, star-forming nebulae and supernovas, but also provides food for thought on our place in the universe.

Many of these images forever changed the way we looked at the universe - who could forget the first time they saw stars being born in the vast, dusty nursery of the Eagle Nebula, or contemplated the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, which reduced innumerable galaxies to mere sprinkles on a birthday cake as it peered back 13 billion years, just 400-800 million years after the Big Bang?

By beginning with the Hubble's images of our own solar system before moving on to our own galaxy and then further afield to practically the beginning of time itself, Expanding Universe beautifully illustrates not only the mind-boggling vastness of the heavens above, but also the utter ordinariness of the Milky Way, the very run-of-the mill spiral galaxy that we call home.

Although photo captions are only printed at the rear of the book - meaning there will be a lot of back and forth if you want explanations of what you're looking at - Expanding Universe is a stellar celebration of the Hubble's breathtaking images and science-changing discoveries from 25 years of stargazing.

Expanding Universe, edited by Owen Edwards, Zoltan Levay, Charles F. Bolden Jnr, John Mace Grunsfeld, published by Taschen

For this story and more, see The Review, published with the Sunday Morning Post on May 24, 2015