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Revealing the Universe


April 20, 2015
Location: Washington, DC

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most productive scientific instruments ever constructed. It is a relatively small telescope by terrestrial standards, housed in a cylinder just 4.2 meters wide and 14.3 meters long orbiting 550 kilometers above the earth at 28,000 kilometers per hour. The primary mirror, just 2.4 meters in diameter, polished to within 10 nanometers of perfection, is the most accurate surface ever made.

Since it was launched 25 years ago, on April 24, 1990, Hubble has provided more than one million observations encoded in more than 200 terabytes of data that have resulted in more than 15,000 scientific publications. These observations have revealed a wide variety of previously unsuspected aspects of the cosmos, and these have fundamentally altered our understanding of the universe.

Getting Hubble funded, built and launched required "speculative visions, brilliant insights, years of grinding work, triumphs and mistakes" as the historian William Smith put it. And realizing its promise once it was aloft required the dedication, ingenuity, and courage to carry out four servicing missions, including two rescue missions and several major upgrades, tasks greatly complicated by two space shuttle disasters.

The Philosophical Society of Washington, DC, will host a Hubble event at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, that consists of six presentations followed by a Q&A period. Two of the presentations will describe Hubble history. Three will discuss Hubble-based contributions to science in the areas of planets and stars, deep field observations and cosmology. And the final presentation will describe post-Hubble space observatories, including the James Webb Telescope and observatories that may come after the JWST. The event is free and open to the public.

7:30 p.m. April 20, 2015
Powell Auditorium, adjacent to the Cosmos Club
2121 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

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