Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2009-11-04

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. For information, contact planetarium director George Atchley at (205) 726-4139 or email