Vote for Hubble’s Next Target

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In honor of the International Year of Astronomy—an effort led by UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union “to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery”—the managers of the Hubble Space Telescope are letting us, the public, choose the bit of space that the telescope will observe during the IYA’s 100 Hours of Astronomy on April 2-5. They’ve narrowed the choices to these six:

  • NGC 6634, a star-forming region that promises some beautiful pictures
  • NGC 6072, a planetary nebula that, despite the name, doesn’t contain planets—it’s the remains of a dead star
  • NGC 40, another planetary nebula
  • NGC 5172, a spiral galaxy containing more than 100 billion stars
  • NGC 4289, another spiral galaxy, but one that is viewed from the edge of the disk so its spiral nature is hidden
  • Arp 274, a pair of galaxies just beginning to merge (and the current favorite)

Votes will be collected at until March 1. Even if your pick isn’t chosen, you might win—100 names will be randomly selected to receive a Hubble photo of the celestial body imaged in April. (Hubble photos, at least some of them, make beautiful art; my father has one hanging in his study. So you might want to take the beauty factor into consideration when making your choice.)

Orion nebula, as seen by Hubble (Credit: NASA,ESA, M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA) and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team)

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