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Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe

Marvel at landmark images from the Hubble Space Telescope and better understand astronomy's latest and greatest discoveries in this visual feast of a course.
Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 241.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Short Very Worthwhile There are several advantages to this course. It is short and does not drown you. Meyer keeps the science clear. His tone is pleasant while he moves well through the material. There are also several limitations to this course. It is short and will not make you an astronomer. It is dated 2011 so it ends when only a single exoplanet (3x Jupiter’s size) had been discovered. “STRAIGHT TALK” EXAMPLES: 1.) Many courses say the atmosphere keeps out most photons. Myer (L1) conversely puts it: “(The atmosphere) is transparent only at optical, radio, and select...infrared and microwave regions.” 2.) To describe astronomical units, Myer (L1) points out our ½ degree moon is 1800 arc seconds. Yet (L11) the Ultra Deep Field image showed 10,000 stars in a sky area equal to only 1.7% of the full Moon. Your eyes, by comparison, see only 3000 stars in an entire sky. Yes, the universe is vast…and yet the first stars/galaxies remain beyond Hubble's range since they are probably red shifted beyond Hubble’s abilities. 3.) L8 nicely describes dark energy as the energy of the fabric of space that drives the acceleration of the universe. FLOW OF COURSE EXAMPLES: Starting with L3, we are given information that fleshes out what we see with a telescope. L3 discusses the 10 billion year old dense spherical globular cluster M80 with unexpected blue stars at its core...possibly from galaxy collision? L4 reveals that the low density Eagle Nebula (it has pillars 400 times the Earth-Sun distance) is backlit by 4 hot protostars. L5 describes another nebular type containing expanding ash from the death of a solar-like star turned red giant that causes symmetric mass ejections every 1500 years. The dying star’s UV light causes the nebular shells to glow. Other "artistic" outflows are seen in the Ant Nebula with its figure 8 shells controlled by either a companion star’s magnetic or gravity field or the Butterfly Nebula. All are subject to heavy mass loss leading eventually to a white dwarf (about the size of the earth that contains half the mass of the sun) that is “like a dying coal” slowly radiating away its heat. L6 describes the red supergiant (as big as Mar’s orbit) that contracts rapidly as its helium runs until not fusible iron is left, it violently contracts as the core converts electrons/protons to almost pure neutrons. These release massive amounts of neutrino energy and it reaches supernova status, exploding with the luminosity of a billion suns. What is left in the Crab Nebula (its explosion was seen on earth in 1054 and known as M1) is a rapidly expanding web of filaments and a pulsatile neutron star pulsing and spinning and a high-speed electron searchlight beaming about the nebula with a blue glow. L7 describes the dominant spiral galaxies (island universes) of our local group including M31 (Andromeda) and M104 (the edge on Sombrero with a bright nucleus around its billion solar mass black hole). L9 describes how the Milky Way has captured and shredded small galaxies. The Antennae Galaxies are in an ongoing collision between two spirals. Lecture 10 discusses why the gravitational lens of Abell 2218 must be mostly dark matter because that while it interacts via gravity, it is “invisible” (because it doesn’t produce electromagnetic photon emission or absorption). SUMMARY: We use this course and Murphy’s Great Course “Our Night Sky” to enhance our sky watching because they add dimension to what we are seeing CONTROVERSY? Some reviewers seem more focused over the Big Bang model and its relationship to biblical teaching than evaluating the course content. I find this puzzling, given L2 of the Great Course “Origin and Evolution of Earth “ by Hazen. He points out that creation’s initial singularity formed gravity at 10 to the minus 43 seconds, yet there were no atoms to form gravity-inducing masses for the first ½ million years! And on the sequences go until either all formed via stupendous chance or because an intelligence willed it. That the ancients could never have dreamed up sequences parallel to Hazen’s (though a careful reading of Genesis 1:1 to 3 suggests they did) would be preposterous. That Night came before Day is a clue. Indeed, L2 sounds a lot like “Let there be light” though those who dislike such an idea will insist happenstance. The “controversy” is really whether a reviewer sits with Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…” or whether one believes life ends as amorphous dust. The difference in reviewer viewpoint comes to this: does the Bible’s wording of the Big Bang show underlying intelligence OR are there “multiverses" (for which there is NO scientific verification methodology possible) to prove accidental origins of our own. Meyer’s magnificently provides what is out there; your viewpoint is yours and does NOT affect the quality of Meyer’s efforts.
Date published: 2022-05-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding the science I have been enjoying the two 'Experiencing Hubble' courses. I had thought of the Hubble Space Telescope in terms of spectacular images, but Professor Meyer explains the science behind many images and also the scientists who have contributed. It also shows how the Webb telescope will move this research forward.
Date published: 2022-02-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Course is a five, except audio wildly out of sync Wonderful course, but how can it be that so much of the audio is out of sync? Incredibly distracting — you have to force yourself to look away. Great Courses folks — this is a download, not a DVD — you can easily fix it, and it does you no credit that you don’t.
Date published: 2021-12-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting A great course on Hubble. Looking forward to one on the Webb Telescope.
Date published: 2021-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Hubble Images Really learned a lot about the makeup, density, and incredible sizes of the structures revealed by Hubble such as the horse head nebula, Orion and others. Very informative and interesting. Taught by an expert.
Date published: 2021-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Only average Course content very good. No other comments. Enough.
Date published: 2021-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Pictures Great photos and good explanations by a knowledgeable lecturer.
Date published: 2021-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Just like the other Hubble course, Professor Meyer delivers an excellent series of lectures and, again, the images are the centerpiece of the course and are outstanding.
Date published: 2021-09-02
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Overview

Marvel at a carefully selected sampling of the Hubble Space Telescope's landmark images in Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe. This visual feast of a course features many of the greatest discoveries in astronomy during Hubble's first two decades. Your guide is award-winning Professor David M. Meyer, whose 12 lectures use breathtaking imagery to reveal the fundamental concepts and recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the cosmos. His course is a dazzling voyage of discovery that will delight your eyes, feed your imagination, and spark your curiosity about the universe.

About

David M. Meyer

I have found no better way to communicate the joy of discovery in astronomy than through the beautiful cosmic images obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope.

INSTITUTION

Northwestern University

Dr. David M. Meyer is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University, where he is also Director of the Dearborn Observatory and Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. He earned his B.S. in Astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles. He continued his studies as a Robert R. McCormick Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago's Enrico Fermi Institute before joining the Northwestern faculty. Professor Meyer's research focuses on the spectroscopic study of interstellar and extragalactic gas clouds-work carried out over the past 15 years with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope. Along with his collaborators, Professor Meyer has conducted 20 research projects with Hubble, resulting in 25 peer-reviewed publications. He has also served five times on the committee that annually selects the most deserving proposals for Hubble observing time. During his career at Northwestern, Professor Meyer has specialized in designing and teaching introductory undergraduate courses in astronomy, cosmology, and astro-biology for non-science majors. His many teaching awards include the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence, Northwestern's highest teaching honor. Beyond campus, Professor Meyer has delivered popular talks on Hubble to young and old in settings as far-flung as a transatlantic crossing.

By This Professor

Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe
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A Visual Guide to the Universe with the Smithsonian
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Experiencing Hubble: Exploring the Milky Way
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Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe

Trailer

The Rationale for a Space Telescope

01: The Rationale for a Space Telescope

Begin your exploration of the scientific stories behind 10 of the most fascinating images made by the Hubble Space Telescope. In this lecture, learn about Hubble's design and how its operations were almost cut short by a flaw in its mirror, a problem corrected during a space shuttle servicing mission.

32 min
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter

02: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter

Shortly after its optics were repaired, Hubble had the opportunity to observe the solar system event of the century: the collision of a string of comets with Jupiter in 1994. Examine Hubble's stunning image of the aftermath of this crash.

30 min
The Sagittarius Star Cloud

03: The Sagittarius Star Cloud

Hubble's view of a tiny region of the Sagittarius Star Cloud has an astonishing 12,000 stars. Study this dazzling image and learn how its unprecedented resolution is helping to chart the stellar history and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy.

30 min
The Star Factory inside the Eagle Nebula

04: The Star Factory inside the Eagle Nebula

Explore the most iconic Hubble photo of all: the glowing pillars of gas and dust at the core of the Eagle Nebula. Resembling a fantasy landscape, this view shows young stars emerging from their cocoons of gas and dust in an interstellar molecular cloud.

30 min
The Cat's Eye Nebula-A Stellar Demise

05: The Cat's Eye Nebula-A Stellar Demise

Turning from star birth to star death, get a preview of the sun's distant future by examining the Cat's Eye Nebulae. Such planetary nebulae (which have nothing to do with planets) are the exposed debris of dying stars and are among the most beautiful objects in the Hubble gallery.

31 min
The Crab Nebula-A Supernova's Aftermath

06: The Crab Nebula-A Supernova's Aftermath

Stars more than eight times as massive as the sun take a radically different path at the end of their lives, disintegrating in a colossal explosion known as a supernova. Hubble's image of the famous Crab Nebula shows the expanding cloud of material from a supernova that was witnessed on Earth in the year 1054.

31 min
The Sombrero Galaxy-An Island Universe

07: The Sombrero Galaxy-An Island Universe

In the 1920s, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered the true nature of galaxies as "island universes." Some 80 years later, the telescope named in his honor has made thousands of breathtaking pictures of galaxies. Focus on one in particular-an edge-on view of the striking Sombrero galaxy.

30 min
Hubble's View of Galaxies Near and Far

08: Hubble's View of Galaxies Near and Far

Hubble's image of the nearby galaxy NGC 3370 includes many faint galaxies in the background, exemplifying the telescope's mission to establish an accurate distance scale to galaxies near and far-along with the related expansion rate of the universe. Discover how Hubble's success has led to the concept of dark energy.

31 min
The Antennae Galaxies-A Cosmic Collision

09: The Antennae Galaxies-A Cosmic Collision

A pair of interacting galaxies called the Antennae represent Hubble's most dramatic snapshot of a galactic collision. Learn how such events unfold over the course of millions of years and how the nearby Andromeda galaxy will have a similar encounter with our own Milky Way in the far distant future.

31 min
Abell 2218-A Massive Gravitational Lens

10: Abell 2218-A Massive Gravitational Lens

One of the consequences of Einstein's general theory of relativity is evident in Hubble's picture of the galaxy cluster Abell 2218. Investigate the physics of this phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, and discover how Hubble has used it to study extremely distant galaxies as well as dark matter.

31 min
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field

11: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Completing your tour of 10 remarkable Hubble images, plunge into the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, the deepest optical image of the cosmos made to date. This extraordinary view shows 10,000 galaxies extending far beyond the Milky Way and back to the epoch of galaxy formation.

30 min
Hubble's Legacy and Beyond

12: Hubble's Legacy and Beyond

Finish the course by looking at the future of Hubble and the next generation of space telescopes. Focus in particular on the search for extrasolar planets, how they are found, and the role Hubble and other telescopes play in extending our knowledge of possibly earthlike worlds.

33 min