Office of University Communications & Marketing

UNA Planetarium Unveiling New NASA Images Tuesday
Nov. 9, 2009



FLORENCE, Ala. – The University of North Alabama Planetarium and Observatory will unveil new mural-sized NASA images of the center of the Milky Way Galaxy Tuesday morning at 10. The university is one of the institutions chosen by NASA to participate in the nationwide unveiling, which is part of the International Year of Astronomy.

The new images offer a view of the galaxy as seen by all three of NASA’s Great Observatories: the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning a telescope to the heavens. Since Galileo’s spyglass, telescopes have grown ever larger and ever better, and have moved to mountaintops and into space. NASA’s Great Observatories represent the crowning achievements of astronomy four centuries later and are honoring this legacy with a spectacular national image unveiling.

A giant 6-foot, 3-foot image presents a unique view that showcases the Milky Way in a near-infrared light observed by Hubble, infrared light observed by Spitzer and X-ray light observed by Chandra. This combined image was carefully assembled from mosaic photo surveys of the core by each telescope. It provides the most wide-ranging view ever of the galaxy’s mysterious hub.

The UNA Planetarium will also unveil a matched trio of Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra images of the Milky Way’s center on a second large panel measuring 3 feet by 4 feet. Each image shows the telescope’s different wavelength view of the central region of the galaxy that illustrates not only the unique science each observatory conducts but also how far astronomy has come since Galileo.

These multi-wavelength views provide both stunning beauty and a wealth of scientific information that could not have been dreamed by Galileo.

Additional information on each of NASA’s Great Observatories is available at www.hubblesite.org, spitzer.caltech.edu and chandra.harvard.edu. For more information about the International Year of Astronomy, visit astronomy2009.nasa.gov.

For more information on the NASA image unveiling at UNA, contact Dr. Mel Blake, planetarium director, at 256-765-4284 or rmblake@una.edu.

PRESS KITS AVAILABLE: Press kits containing a press release, digital image files and photo captions will be available at the unveiling or by contacting the Office of University Communications at 256-765-4225 or jlwoods1@una.edu.