NASA Will Show You the Stunning Space Photo the Hubble Took on Your Birthday

The Hubble telescope has taken hundreds of images since it launched in 1990. NASA has built a tool that lets you see images taken on your birthday

Hubble Image
A portion of the Monkey Head Nebula, photographed by Hubble in 2014. | NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team
A portion of the Monkey Head Nebula, photographed by Hubble in 2014. | NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

The Hubble Space Telescope may be one of the most famous objects humans have put in space. It has provided iconic images that have inspired thousands and left an indelible mark on the way we think about the universe. 2020 was the 30th anniversary of Hubble's arrival in orbit after launching on April 24, 1990.

NASA had planned on celebrating the milestone in several ways, but many of those events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Agency nonetheless celebrated the landmark observatory online. Those online activities include a photo gallery, a tour of the telescope, e-books, and a site where you can enter a date and see an image Hubble took on your birthday. That last one might be the most fun thing the site has launched thus far. (We also collected some NASA staff members' favorite Hubble images.)

MORE: The Best Stargazing of 2022 Includes Eclipses, Meteor Showers, and a Line of 5 Planets

hubble birthday image
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the interacting galaxy pair Arp 273, popularly called the “Rose.” | NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

The Telescope is watching the cosmos night and day, every day of the year. That makes digging for your birthday picture a bit of a lottery with the chance that you'll find something iconic or revolutionary pop up, like the Monkey Head Nebula, the Eagle Nebula Pillars, or a glamour shot of Jupiter. (To be clear, the images are from your birth date and not necessarily the year you were born.)

hubble images
Saturn imaged in infrared. | NASA and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)

It's not an overstatement when NASA writes that the telescope "has transformed our understanding of the universe." You can share your birthday image on social media and get a glimpse of what others have found by searching the hashtag #Hubble30 on Twitter and Instagram.

Maybe 30 years from now we can get a similar collection of the sure-to-be-incredible images sent back from the James Webb Space Telescope, which launched on December 25, 2021. It will usher in a whole new era of imaging.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.