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Fields of View

2 Jul 2020, 12:00 UTC
Fields of View
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When I worked on the Hubble Space Telescope mission, I made a lot of images from Hubble data that revealed amazing landscapes of space. You can see these images at HubbleSite. Aside from the remarkable colors, resolution and sharpness of the images, one of their other defining characteristics was how small a piece of the sky they showed; in more technical terms, their “field of view” was very narrow. One mind-boggling factoid is that it would take about 24 million separate images for Hubble to view the whole sky! This sometimes seemed like a frustrating limitation because I wanted to see more of many of the amazing targets Hubble was able to look at. But on the plus side, the relatively high-resolution cameras were able to record exquisite details in those small fields. We sometimes were able to make wider views by stitching multiple images together to make incredibly high-resolution, panoramic images. One of my favorites is the Carina Nebula Mosaic.

In reality, this is a vast expanse of space covering some 50 light-years across, an incomprehensible 300 trillion miles. Yet it’s so far away that it appears only about 1/2 degree across in the sky, roughly the diameter of ...

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