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News Release 31 of 95

February 10, 2009 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2009-07

NASA's Great Observatories Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy with a National Unveiling of Spectacular Images

The full news release story:

NASA's Great Observatories Celebrate the International Year of  Astronomy with a National Unveiling of Spectacular ImagesView this image

In 1609, Galileo first turned his telescope to the heavens and gave birth to modern astronomy. To commemorate four hundred years of exploring the universe, 2009 is designated the International Year of Astronomy.

NASA's Great Observatories - the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory - are marking the occasion with the release of a suite of images at over 100 planetariums, museums, nature centers, and schools across the country in conjunction with Galileo's birthday on February 15.

The selected sites will unveil a large, 9-square-foot print of the spiral galaxy Messier 101 that combines the optical view of Hubble, the infrared view of Spitzer, and the X-ray view of Chandra into one multiwavelength picture. "It's like using your eyes, night vision goggles, and X-ray vision all at the same time," says Dr. Hashima Hasan, lead scientist for the International Year of Astronomy at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Participating institutions also will display a matched trio of Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra images of Messier 101. Each image shows a different wavelength view of the galaxy that illustrates not only the different science uncovered by each observatory, but also just how far astronomy has come since Galileo.

Messier 101 is a face-on spiral galaxy about 22 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It is in many ways similar to, but larger than, our own Milky Way galaxy. Hubble's visible-light view shows off the swirls of bright stars and glowing gas that give the galaxy its nickname the Pinwheel Galaxy. In contrast, Spitzer's infrared-light image sees into the spiral arms and reveals the glow of dust lanes where dense clouds can collapse to form new stars. Chandra's X-ray picture uncovers the high-energy features in the galaxy, such as remnants of exploded stars or matter zooming around black holes. The juxtaposition of observations from these three telescopes provides an in-depth view of the galaxy for both astronomers and the public.

"The amazing scientific discoveries made by Galileo four centuries ago are continued today by scientists using NASA's space observatories," says Dr. Denise Smith, the unveiling Project Manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. "NASA's Great Observatories are distributing huge prints of spectacular images so that the public can share in the exploration and wonder of the universe."

The unveilings will take place between February 14 and 28 at 76 museums and 40 schools and universities in 39 states, reaching both big cities and small towns. Sites are planning celebrations involving the public, schools, and the local media. A complete listing of the national unveiling sites accompanies this press release.

The International Year of Astronomy Great Observatories Image Unveiling is supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate Astrophysics Division. The project is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Spitzer Science Center, and the Chandra X-ray Center.

Find out more about NASA's contributions to the International Year of Astronomy at:

and the U.S. effort at:

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Ball State University Planetarium, Muncie, Indiana
Carmel Clay Schools Planetarium, Carmel, Indiana
OMSI, Portland, Oregon
Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Raritan Valley Community College, North Branch, New Jersey
Crane Point Museum & Nature Center, Marathon, Florida
The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Discovery Center of Springfield, Springfield, Missouri
John J. McCarthy Observatory, New Milford, Connecticut
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina
Kopernik Observatory and Science Center, Vestal, New York
Austin Nature and Science Center, Austin, Texas
Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii
William M. Staerkel Planetarium, Champaign, Illinois
University of Maine Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory, Orono, Maine
Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, Chicago, Illinois
Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Challenger Learning Center of Maine, Bangor, Maine
Amherst College Wilder Observatory and Bassett Planetarium, Amherst, Massachusetts
NASA Educator Resource Center (ERC) @ Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona
Hudnall Planetarium at Tyler Junior College, Tyler, Texas
Merrillville Community Planetarium (part of the Merrillville Community School Corporation), Merrillville, Indiana
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara, California
Arizona Science Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Sacramento Museum of History, Science & Technology (dba Discovery Museum Science & Space Center), Sacramento, California
Elachee Nature Science Center, Gainesville, Georgia
Ralph Mueller Planetarium - University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska
Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York
Virginia Living Museum, Newport News, Virginia
Schenectady Museum and Suits-Bueche Planetarium, Schenectady, New York
The Detroit Science Center, Detroit, Michigan
Jordanelle State Park, Heber City, Utah
KCMSD Planetarium, Kansas City, Missouri
McWane Science Center, Birmingham, Alabama
Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois
Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium, Fort Myers, Florida
The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, California
Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia
Mohave Middle School, Scottsdale, Arizona
African American Heritage Society, Franklin, Tennessee
University of Denver, Chamberlin Observatory, Denver, Colorado
UNC Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Pike Planetarium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Sun Valley High School, Aston, Pennsylvania
Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas
Plymouth White Marsh High School, Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Planetarium at King Science and Technology Magnet, Omaha, Nebraska
The Natural Science Center of Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina
Santa Fe College Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, Gainesville, Florida
The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina
Suffolk County Community College, Selden, New York
National Park Service, Montrose, Colorado
Strickler Planetarium on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, Illinois
Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, Concord, New Hampshire
Berkeley County Planetarium, Hedgesville, West Virginia
Ott Planetarium - Weber State University, Ogden, Utah
Waubonsie Valley High School Planetarium, Aurora, Illinois
Peter F. Hurst Planetarium, Jackson, Michigan
The Christenberry Planetarium at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama
Museum of Science & Industry - MOSI, Tampa, Florida
Longwood Regional Planetarium at Longwood CSD, Middle Island, New York
Robeson Planetarium and Science Center, Lumberton, North Carolina
Central Texas College, Killeen, Texas
Louisiana Art and Science Museum & the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Planetarium at the University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, Texas
Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Gene Roddenberry Planetarium / The El Paso Independent School District, El Paso, Texas
Exploration Place, Wichita, Kansas
Purdue University College of Education, West Lafayette, Indiana
The Children's Museum, West Hartford, Connecticut
ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, Ashland, Oregon
Texas A&M University-Commerce Planetarium, Commerce, Texas
Sibley Nature Center, Midland, Texas
Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California
Brevard Community College Planetarium, Cocoa, Florida
Texas A&M International University's Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium, Laredo, Texas
Rainwater Observatory & Planetarium, French Camp, Mississippi
Science Central, Fort Wayne, Indiana
The Science Factory, Eugene, Oregon
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, Rosman, North Carolina
College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls, Idaho
Columbia Public Schools Planetarium partnered with Central Missouri Astronomical Association at Laws Observatory, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri
Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium, Louisville, Kentucky
DuPont Planetarium - University of South Carolina Aiken, Aiken, South Carolina
Sudekum Planetarium at the Adventure Science Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Saint Louis Science Center's James S. McDonnell Planetarium, St. Louis, Missouri
Watson-King Planetarium, Towson, Maryland
MiraCosta College, Oceanside, California
Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory, Charlestown, Rhode Island
Kennedy Planetarium, South Bend, Indiana
Kalamazoo Nature Center, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Robert T. Longway Planetarium, Flint, Michigan
Dennos Museum Center / Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, Michigan
Discovery Station at Hagerstown, Inc. and Brish Planetarium of the Washington County Public Schools, Hagerstown, Maryland
The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington
Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio
COSI, Columbus, Ohio
Chippewa Valley Astronomical Society & Beaver Creek Reserve, Fall Creek, Wisconsin
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Windward Community College, Center for Aerospace Education, Kaneohe, Hawaii
Red River Astronomy Club, Nashville, Arkansas
Westminster Astronomical Society, Westminster, Maryland
Minnesota Planetarium Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Midland Lutheran College, Fremont, Nebraska
University of Arizona Biosphere 2, Tucson, Arizona
Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas
Como Planetarium, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center, Bay City, Michigan
Muncie Community Schools Planetarium, Muncie, Indiana
University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Mayo High School Planetarium, Rochester, Minnesota
University of Texas at Arlington / UTA Planetarium, Arlington, Texas
Montgomery College Takoma Park Silver Spring Campus, Takoma Park, Maryland
Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver, Colorado
Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California


J.D. Harrington
Headquarters, Washington

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

Whitney Clavin
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Megan Watzke
Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, CfA, Cambridge, Mass.