This image is monumental. It is an image taken that is a composite of pictures from the Hubble telescope aiming at a “dark spot” in the sky free of any visible stars from our galaxy or anything else for that matter. The spot appeared completely blank to the naked eye or even powerful telescopes. It is about the size of a quarter of the moon as it appears in our sky (hold your thumb out as far from you as you can and it is about a quarter the size of your thumbnail.
The image that returned was of thousands of galaxies, perhaps millions stretching out for billions of light-years into space. That is galaxies, there are only four stars present in this image. You can see galaxies in this image as they appeared near the beginning of time. It absolutely floored me the first time I saw it. Credit to Franco J. Torres, for reminding me of this fantastic image that puts things back into perspective every time I see it.
This is one of my favorite videos on the web: A timelapse video of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, a site consisting mainly of four 8.2m telescopes used to probe the cosmos.
The technology that goes into these things is quite remarkable, it goes without saying that we’ve come a long way since Galileo first turned his eye to to sky. These modern telescopes, perched high atop rural mountains, serve as our window to the universe. If you’re wondering what the lasers are, that would be the adaptive optics system. The laser is used as an “artificial star” to correct for atmospheric distortion.