Honoring the 20th Anniversary
Of the Hubble Telescope
While the Hubble Telescope is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble, it was Lyman Spitzer, Jr. who made the telescope a reality. In the 1940s, he wrote a paper suggesting a space observatory, and spent the next 50 years promoting the idea. NASA approved the project in 1969 and Congress granted funding in 1977. Construction was delayed multiple times, but the Hubble Telescope was finally launched into space aboard the Discovery on April 24, 1990.
Hubble is equipped with five scientific instruments: the Wide Field/Planetary Camera, the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph, the Faint Object Camera, the Faint Object Spectrograph and the High Speed Photometer. The huge instrument can “see” the cosmos clearer than land-based telescopes because of its position above Earth’s image-distorting atmosphere. In fact, it’s said that the power is so strong – and the resolution so sharp – that it’s like seeing a pair of fireflies in Tokyo while standing in Maryland. Hubble has proven the existence of black holes, captured a comet’s collision with Jupiter, and taken the first images of Pluto and its satellite, Charon.
This mint souvenir sheet pictures the telescope as well as a few of the stunning images it has captured. The stamp itself pictures V838 Monocerotis, a red star first observed by the telescope in 2002 that’s 20,000 light years from the Sun.