Published on November 4, 2009 by Mary Wimberley  

Samford University’s Christenberry Planetarium will unveil new mural-sized images of the Milky Way Galaxy’s core from three NASA observatories Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited.

The images of the center of the Galaxy as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory will be shown in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. The unveiling will precede the 7 p.m. regular monthly meeting of the Birmingham Astronomical Society (BAS).

The Samford planetarium is one of three sites in Alabama, and one of 152 locations nationwide, chosen by NASA to display the images. They will remain on view at the  planetarium indefinitely.

The 6-foot-by-3-foot image presents a view that showcases the Galaxy in near-infrared light observed by Hubble, infrared light observed by Spitzer and X-ray light observed by Chandra. This combined image was assembled from mosaic photo surveys of the core by each telescope. It is the most wide-ranging view ever of the Galaxy’s mysterious hub.

Also on display will be a matched trio of Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra images of the Milky Way’s center on a second large panel. Each image shows a different wavelength view of the central region of the Galaxy, illustrating the unique science that each observatory conducts.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning a telescope to the heavens.

The BAS meeting will also feature a discussion of how to select and purchase a telescope.

Samford’s Christenberry Planetarium is located in Propst Hall. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.