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  Scheduling the Hubble Space Telescope    
Hubble Heritage Information Center

The Challenges of Using the
Hubble Space Telescope

The challenges of using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) are numerous. The links below sometimes demonstrate the complexity of the instrument and sometimes simplify the story about creating images from HST exposures.

Scheduling the Hubble Space Telescope

Imagine using a telescope that is orbiting around the earth. How does one keep it pointed and steady without the earth for support? What happens if it points towards the moon or the sun? Who worries about these things and makes sure the telescope doesn't get damaged? One of the people is the Program Coordinator (PC). These notes were written by Mike Asbury who was PC for the observations of NGC 4650A.

Pointing the Hubble Space Telescope

Imagine a square window on the universe. Wouldn't it be easy to center your favorite astronomical object in that window? But what if you are using the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) detector? Because 1 of the 4 cameras has a different spatial resolution than the others, when all 4 images are scaled to match each other the field of view is "chevron" shaped. so the astronomers have to consider where to place their target in the field of view and how to rotate the telescope, orient the detector, so that all of the target falls in the field of view.

An example, on the Hubble Heritage website, comparing the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope with a large groundbased telescope is the galaxy NGC 253.

Want to see whether the HST field of view will cover your favorite astronomical object? Visit the archive . There you can search for data taken with WFPC2 and ask for the field of view to be plotted on the Digitized Sky Survey (DSS).

Other Challenges

Simple descriptions about the work involved in operating HST are presented in the Hubble Primer.

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