Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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April 25th
The Hubble Space Telescope
On April 25, 1990, the crew of the space shuttle Discovery deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, a space-based observatory that had long been the dream of astronomers. Hubble soon began taking stunning pictures of colliding galaxies, black holes, gas clouds, and space at the edge of the universe.

The telescope, named for American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, orbits 375 miles above the earth. Since it does not have to look through the atmosphere, it can capture extraordinarily clear images. As big as a large tractor-trailer truck, it was designed so that space-walking astronauts can repair and replace its parts.

Not long after Hubble’s launch, engineers realized that a flaw in the telescope’s 94-inch light-gathering mirror was affecting the sharpness of images. Engineers quickly came up with a device to fix the problem, which astronauts from the shuttle Endeavor installed in 1993.

It has been said that not since Galileo trained his telescope on the night sky has any single instrument changed humankind’s understanding of the universe as much as the Hubble Space Telescope. Certainly, it is one of the most important instruments in the history of astronomy, helping scientists gather clues about mysteries such as how stars are formed and the age of the universe.

NASA, which operates Hubble in cooperation with the European Space Agency, controls the telescope with radio commands sent from Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Every day, the telescope streams data to astronomers all over the world. You can see some of Hubble’s breathtaking photos and get news about the project at http://hubble.nasa.gov/ as well as at http://hubblesite.org.

American History Parade
1898
The United States declares war on Spain in the Spanish-American War.

1945
U.S. and Soviet forces meet at the Elbe River in Central Europe as World War II draws to a close.

1959
The St. Lawrence Seaway, linking the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes, opens.

1983
The Pioneer 10 spacecraft crosses Pluto’s orbit, continuing its voyage into space beyond the solar system.

1990
The space shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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