Exploring Space

Looking up at the stars from your own backyard is terrific. Looking through a telescope brings the stars even closer. Looking at star pictures taken from a telescope in outer space—now that's truly amazing!

The most famous telescope in outer space today is the Hubble Space Telescope. High above Earth's clouds, the Hubble can take astonishing pictures of our wild and wonderful universe.

This picture shows a cluster of galaxies spinning away in the farthest reaches of space. Galaxies are vast collections of stars. Scientists think there are billions of galaxies in the universe, and billions of stars in each galaxy.

Some galaxies, including our own Milky Way Galaxy, look like giant pinwheels. Some are shaped like eggs. Still others look like a wheel, with a line of stars making a spoke across the middle.

There are new stars inside the fingerlike tips of the eerie-looking Eagle Nebula. Nebulas are enormous clouds of gas and dust. Sometimes nebulas are called “star nurseries”—because that's where stars are born!

Some nebulas are formed when stars get old. This nebula looks like a glowing eye. The bright light in the center is an ancient, dying star. Surrounding it are enormous streams of gases that the aging star has blown off.

Stars being born and stars dying. Billions of galaxies spreading out forever. It's too amazing to imagine—but the Hubble Space Telescope makes it real.

Vocabulary

telescope:
A telescope is a tool that helps people see things that are far away. Telescopes are made of curved pieces of glass or mirrors inside a tube. People can use them to look at the stars.

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Activity

  1. What can people learn by looking at outer space through a telescope?
    [anno: People can learn about the stars and galaxies by looking through a telescope.]
  2. What is a nebula?
    [anno: A nebula is a giant cloud made of gas and dust.]
  3. What would you use a telescope to look at in outer space? Why?
    [anno: Answers will vary.]