Beginning on Sunday, September 25 an outdoor laser exhibit at the Maryland Science Center (www.mdsci.org/) will present a unique blend of astronomy and art. Hubble spectral observations of distant galaxies will be projected onto the Maryland Science Center with an intense green laser. Educational activities will allow students to explore the world of light and color in astronomy.
The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for its spectacular images of distant galaxies, glittering stars, and colorful planets. But Hubble does more than just take pretty pictures. Its suite of instruments can also divide light into a rainbow of color called a spectrum. Encoded in the spectrum is a host of information about celestial objects, including their motion, chemical composition, and temperature. Spectroscopy is crucial for finding black holes, characterizing the atmospheres of other planets, and plumbing the depths of the invisible universe.
Normally, only astronomers see these invaluable spectral signatures. But German artist Tim Otto Roth and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore have teamed up to transform the Hubble data into vibrant waves of emerald green light from a high-powered laser which ripple across the steel facade of the Maryland Science Center. This laser projection looks like a string of squiggly lines. It takes an astronomer's trained eye to decode a star's signature into new information sent to us from billions of years ago by galaxies, stars, and quasars.
A number of educational activities are built around the theme "Exploring the World of Light and Color," that will be done in cooperation with the Maryland Science Center.
The exhibit runs through October 18. Hours are from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. each evening. The Maryland Science Center is located at 601 Light Street in Baltimore.
This photo shows the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys grism spectra being projected.
Credit: Mark Clampin