Most helpful positive review
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Interesting Narrative and Excellent Photos -
on December 9, 2012
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in service since 1990. The telescope weighs 12 tons, is the size of a bus, has a 2.4 meter mirror (vs. 8 - 10 on the largest Earth-bound telescopes), and observes in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra. The Hubble is located in an orbit about 330 miles above the Earth's atmosphere. Adaptive optics and computer programming is now able to remove much of the blur caused by the Earth's atmospheric turbulence, but the Hubble still has an advantage in that it is not impeded by any background glow in the sky. It can resolve a pair of fireflies six feet part at the distance of NYC - Tokyo. Originally it's mirror was unable to focus properly due to a grinding error - incredibly new optical components with the exact same error in the opposite sense were able to correct the problem when installed in a later mission.
NASA plans to add a new space telescope (James Webb Space Telescope) with a 6.5 meter mirror and half the mass of the Hubble; expenditures are now capped at $11 billion by Congress.
The book contains over 300 cosmic photos selected by the author, some taken as recently as spring 2012. The first photo is that of star cluster Messier 9, about 250,000 light-years from Earth, discovered in 1764 as a faint smudge. The Hubble portrait of this cluster reveals 250,000 individual stars in its entirety. The second shows the interstellar gas blast wave from a 400+ year ago supernova blast. Other photos show galaxies almost 100 million light-years away - an incredible distance.