Closeup of Kuiper staring into the camera.

Great Observatories

Closeup of Kuiper's eye.

Kuiper does you a Great Observe ? while I practice using #manualfocus. ? Here’s a #closeupphoto!

The Great Observatories what we call a group of four big space (i.e. satellite) #telescopes. Three of the four are still in the business of Science, but the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was sadly decomissioned in the year 2000. The other three, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer are still up in orbit collecting data.

The four telescopes were designed to complement each other by each studying different parts of the #electromagneticspectrum (the spectrum includes energy that you can see with your naked eye, like visible light, and energy that we can’t see, like X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves.) All of these, including light, are considered forms of “radiation,” but it doesn’t mean that they are all harmful to you.

In general, the forms of radiation that concern us regarding cancer are “ionizing” radiation, which includes X-rays, #gammarays, and part of the ultraviolet spectrum. These are higher energy. We don’t have evidence that lower energy bands (“non-ionizing”) e.g. light, microwaves, and radio waves (like your cell phone uses) increase your risk of cancer.

In order of highest to lowest frequency, Compton was used to map gamma rays across the sky for the first time. It saw flashes of energy all over the place that turned out to be exploding stars from distant galaxies. Chandra studies x-rays, including from black holes and supernovas. It has taken some really cool pictures.

Hubble studies visible light and the lower part of UV. We’ve learned a lot about the age of the universe, used it to study dark matter, and we’ve even taken baby pictures of newborn stars with it. Spitzer studies infrared; it was the first to visually confirm the presence of planets outside our solar system.

Where would you like to point a telescope?

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