March 22nd, 2010

Hubble: A Journey Through Space and Time by Edward Weiler; Abrams, New York, New York; (hard cover) $29.95; April 2010.

Next month, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 20th anniversary since it was deployed by a shuttle crew to begin its orbiting of the Earth.

Hubble’s inspection of the surrounding universe has trumped ground-based telescopes. The imagery it has relayed over the years have been true-eye openers, from helping to resolve the age of the universe to identifying quasars and scoping out faraway Pluto.

In a staring contest with the immensity of the cosmos, the orbiting observatory has won hands down.

This is a visual romp of a book, but also a well-written account by an astrophysicist, Edward Weiler, who oversaw the NASA Hubble project – a tale that includes how the telescope got off to a shaky, out-of-focus start to become the powerful astronomical workhorse that it is today.

Even better, this book spotlights the attributes of human spaceflight to repair and upgrade the Hubble over and over again to maximize the observatory’s unique skill set in probing the cosmos. Furthermore, the volume includes a timely overview and photos from Hubble’s last scheduled servicing mission that took place in May 2009.

Containing 100 full-color illustrations along with abundant, captivating text, the book is a treasure trove of information. A special salute goes to NASA staffers, Robert Jacobs, Connie Moore, Bertram Ulrich, Dwayne Brown and JD Harrington that helped to create this dazzling book.

Then pilot on the 1990 shuttle mission that launched Hubble, Charles Bolden, Jr., now NASA administrator, provides a foreword that notes: “Hubble is arguably the most successful comeback story and scientific project of all time, in terms of scientific value and its ongoing public appeal.”

Indeed, that public appeal has transformed all of us into true “Hubble huggers” – each of us on our own journey through space and time.

For more information on this book, go to:

By Leonard David