Happy Birthday, Hubble! The space telescope with an incredible eye for the weird and wonderful is turning 25 — and to look back over the past 25 years, NASA has put together an album of the best Hubble picture of the year, every year, since 1990.
What’s really delightful about this album is that you can see the progress so clearly. Over the past two and a half decades, Hubble has been practicing and that practice has paid off.
Consider these two shots. The first is from the Hubble’s first year in 1990:
It’s a perfectly respectable, even rather pretty, shot of a supernova. Certainly, it was one of the more impressive snaps of its day.
Here’s the selected anniversary image in 2014:
Not only is the image itself gorgeous, it’s also exceptional from a scientific standpoint. Using gravitational lensing techniques, Hubble was able to take this shot of the deepest section of space we have ever seen – and beam us back an up-close look at the galaxies out there.
In other words, it’s been a pretty busy 25 years.
You can check out the images for each year right here.
Top image: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (U. California, Berkeley) et al., and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); 1990 Hubble image: NASA, ESA, and STScI; 2014 Hubble image: NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)