June 12, 2010

Hubble 3D: A Wonderful Homage to One of the Greatest Inventions of Mankind

Image: NASA

Image: Warner Brothers
 Pictures/IMAX Corporation
As soon as I discovered that there was a new IMAX movie being made about the Hubble Space Telescope, I knew that I had to see it. I’ve been fascinated about the Hubble since about third grade. And now there was a 3D IMAX movie honoring the majestic telescope. As I entered the theater I had very high hopes for the film. And with just a few minutes into it, I knew that at the end I would not be disappointed. [Full review below the fold.]

The movie’s backbone is provided by details of STS-125, HST Servicing Mission 4. It follows the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, its pairing with the Hubble Space Telescope, and the work conducted during the spacewalks. We even see some of the astronauts’ crazy daily activities in a weightless environment. Unfortunately, the shuttle was only able to bring 8 minutes of film to space. Of course, every second of those 8 minutes is filled with awe-inspiring footage, but it continually leaves you desiring for more.

The film also provides a simple but in depth history of the telescope. I personally knew almost all of  it, but paired with glorious images stretching 6 stories tall, the experience felt very new. I was walking through Hubble’s past in a way that I had never been able to do in any book before.

Yet, my favorite parts of the film were those that led the audience on a journey through the universe. Starting with places relatively close to the Earth, like the Orion Nebula, the film gradually steps further and further away. I saw the Milky Way, then the Andromeda galaxy, and then even later the view centered on the Local Group. Ultimately, I was staring at the structure of the universe, galaxies assembled in net like structures. All of the steps along the way were reconstructed in 3D, much of it using data collected from the Hubble itself. Sitting back in my seat, as I was guided through the grandeur of the known universe, made me realize once again why I got interested in astronomy in the first place. The large scale of the universe is absolutely breathtaking and mind-blowing. I fail to completely comprehend the size and the beauty of what lies outside of the Earth, yet it never fails to draw me in. I feel that one of the things that the movie does extremely well is conveying the scale of the universe, and how we fit in. The Hubble Space Telescope keeps reminding what exists outside, and how small we actually are. In this respect, the movie is a wonderful homage to one of the greatest inventions of mankind.

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