The folks who run the Hubble Space Telescope have decided to ask for some help in choosing where to next point the world’s most famous telescope. People from around the planet can vote to select the next object the Hubble Space Telescope will view. The choices are six objects Hubble has never observed before. You can also enter a drawing to win one of 100 new Hubble pictures of the object that is chosen. The winning image will be released between April 2 and 5, during the IYA’s 100 Hours of Astronomy, a global astronomy event geared toward encouraging as many people as possible to experience the night sky. You need to vote by March 1 to swing Hubble toward your favorite target. So get over to the HubbleSite and vote!
The choices are two planetary nebulae (NGC 40 and NGC 6072), an emission nebula (NGC 6634), an edge-on spiral (NGC 4289), a spiral galaxy (NGC 5172 – seen above from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey) and interacting galaxies (Arp 274).
Here’s a screen shot of the HubbleSite page where the voting is taking place, with the rankings blurred out. (This image was stolen from Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy site –thanks Phil!) But get over to the HubbleSite already and vote! If you need some more info to help you decide, there is a video with Dr. Frank Summers, a very fun astronomer-type guy who will explain each of the target objects. This event is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s astronomical observations with his telescope.
Sources: HubbleSite, Bad Astronomy