A chance to point Hubble

Get out your heavenly wish list: Astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope are soliciting suggestions for where to point the orbiting observatory this summer.

Imagine having the Hubble Space Telescope at your command, so you could point its keen eye at any star or galaxy that strikes your fancy. A group of Hubble astronomers is offering to make that heavenly dream come true.

The team is asking the public where to point the observatory this summer. From March 21 to June 6, you can make a pitch at the Web site http://heritage.stsci.edu/. The Hubble team will consider the number of votes for each object, scientific merit, and potential for a spectacular image.

The target must be an object that the telescope has not already observed, is small enough to fit within Hubble’s narrow field of view, and isn’t extremely faint. Only 8 to 10 orbits have been allotted for the winning entry, notes Keith S. Noll of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. Finally, to prevent the sun’s glare from damaging Hubble, the target can’t lie too close to the sun this summer.

The team will post detailed guidelines at the Web site before March 21. Time to wish upon a star.

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