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The Beginning of Things

I dont often recommend space-related books or journals in this column but one special edition color magazine worth picking up is Astronomy magazines 2008 collector edition of Hubbles Greatest Pictures. I picked up a copy at my local Hannaford Supermarket. I started thumbing through the magazine and didnt want to leave the check-out line. This special magazine costs $8.95 and is chock full of eye popping images of deep space objectseverything from supernova remnants and comets to colliding galaxies and interstellar gas clouds. All the magazines photographs were lensed by NASAs groundbreaking Hubble Space Telescope during the 1990s and early 2000s. While many of these stunning space images can be found on various Internet web sites (the best is: http://hubble.nasa.gov/), the tactile sensation of turning old fashioned glossy paper pages and looking at section enlargements through a hand-magnifying lens made the purchase a better interactive experience for me. I readily admit that I was moved to near tears when I contemplated the jaw-dropping photo spread on pages 94-95. This big image is from Hubbles Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) camera and reveals 10,000 of the first galaxies to emerge from a time shortly following the Big Bang. This is an image not easily described with words; it offers the viewer a literal look far back into deep, deep time. The page is awash in the light of the universes first galaxies in a variety of shapesspirals, bells, globules, dust balls, and more. Sorry if this old science writer waxes spiritual, but somewhere, hidden in that image, is the hand of God. Over 800 individual exposures went into making the 10,000 Galaxies image. The composite result took the NASA-HUDF team of image processors 11 total days over two passes back in 1995 and 1998. Each exposure took 21 minutes. You cant look any deeper into time than this image. There are many more images to marvel at in Hubbles Greatest Pictures. It is unfortunate the publisher did not make the magazine available in a hardbound edition. Another enjoyable special magazine now available is Discover magazines The History of Space Travel (look for the photo of a little tyke in a spacesuit and helmet on the black and white cover). This $7.95 magazine celebrates the 50th anniversary of Sputnik and includes a cool insert of a paper model of a Mars rover robot you can build at home. Whats in the Sky: On Nov. 11 look for the faint constellation Pisces, the fish; it can be seen high in the southern sky tonight. Inside the constellation is M74, an intriguing spiral galaxy. You can view this galaxy through a small reflecting or refractor telescope.

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