Planetarium to add mural-sized images from orbiting Great Observatories

Released on 01/30/2009, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009

WHERE: Mueller Planetarium, NU State Museum, south of 14th and Vine Streets

Lincoln, Neb., January 30th, 2009 —
Spiral Galaxy Messier 101
Spiral Galaxy Messier 101

Mueller Planetarium at the University of Nebraska State Museum will celebrate Galileo's birthday and the International Year of Astronomy at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 when two new mural-sized images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory will be unveiled to the public.

The stunning photographs of the well-known spiral galaxy Messier 101 commemorate the International Year of Astronomy and will be unveiled by Allen Beermann, executive director of the Nebraska Press Association.

Galileo Galilei was born Feb. 15, 1564, and the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary when he first turned a telescope to the heavens in 1609. From Galileo's first spyglass, telescopes have grown ever larger and ever better, and have moved to mountaintops and to space. NASA's orbiting Great Observatories represent the achievements of astronomy four centuries later and are honoring this legacy with a national image unveiling. Mueller Planetarium and the University of Nebraska State Museum were selected to present these images to the state.

One 6-foot-by-3-foot image shows three striking full-color images that showcase the galaxy's features in the infrared light observed by Spitzer, the visible light observed by Hubble, and the X-ray light observed by Chandra. The images show not only the details of the grand design spiral structure for which the galaxy is famous, but also the underlying giant clouds where stars are born, as well as the hidden locations of black holes and exploded stars. These multi-wavelength views provide both stunning beauty and a wealth of scientific information not even dreamed of by Galileo.

Another 3-foot-by-3-foot image of Messier 101 combines the views from all three telescopes into an amazing composite. "It's like seeing with your eyes, night vision goggles, and X-ray vision all at once," said Jack Dunn, supervisor of the planetarium.

For additional information about the orbiting Great Observatories, visit, and

For more information about Mueller Planetarium, visit

The new images will be permanently on display in the lobby of Mueller Planetarium, which is the University of Nebraska State Museum in Morrill Hall, south of 14th and Vine streets on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Campus. The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults (19 and over), $3 for children (5-18 years, 4 and under are free), and $10 for families (up to two adults and children). There is an additional charge for planetarium shows. Parking is free. For more information about the museum, call Dana Ludvik at (402) 472-3779 or visit

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