Talk:Hubble Space Telescope

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Featured article Hubble Space Telescope is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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Images 'beamed' to earth in black & white, each captured in red, green and blue[edit]

In the "Hubble data" / "Transmission to Earth" section we find the following sentence : "Images from Hubble are beamed to Earth in black & white, with each image being captured with red, green, and blue filters. Then these images are combined into one image by a Hubble imaging team, using a "Technicolor process".[131]".

This ranges from being misleading to false:

- The data captured by cameras on the HST is not "black & white" in any meaningful sense. Each exposure captures the intensity of light within particular bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, none of which the human eye and brain would perceive as "black & white". I find it misleading.

- While the filter wheels include (roughly) red, green and blue filters, it is rare for all three of those filters to be used for one observation. There are many other filters in use, near infrared or "hydrogen" filters being favourites. Much of the observations are not even performed through more than one or two filters.

- Much of the data is not combined into color pictures at all. When it is, I most definitively would not describe the process as having anything to do with "Technicolor", which is a trademark referring to very specific processes that have little to do with all the digital processing done for astronomic pictures and is probably not even a remotely familiar term to most people anymore.

I'm erasing that sentence, it would not be particularly relevant to that section if it was correct, anyway. (talk) 20:22, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

The point that the Hubble takes monochrome images through different filters, which are combined to make color images, seems important enough to mention. I made it more technically correct; it's an open question where it should go, but I left it here for now. LouScheffer (talk) 04:13, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
"Hubble data" seemed like the right section, so I added a sub-section "color images". LouScheffer (talk) 04:22, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

-March 23,2015: A video describing the process by which Hubble made images are colorized by the Imaging team lead. It may be useful as a reference. Jcardazzi (talk) 12:19, 23 March 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

Viewing the Hubble[edit]

The Hubble Space Telescope is clearly visible to the naked eye if you know where to look, similar to the Space Station - although the Hubble is not as bright due to its height and smaller size. Web sites such as Heavens-Above provide predictions of where and when it will be visible. Can anybody see a reason not to mention this briefly?--Gronk Oz (talk) 14:05, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

I think ISS viewing is included only because it gets mentioned by NASA and the media quite often, which implies a certain notability in the activity. I don't see how Hubble viewing has any relative notability, or why there's any real reason to include it in an already long article. Perhaps the addition of a section on satellite/spacecraft viewing at amateur astronomy would be warranted? Huntster (t @ c) 20:41, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that response, Huntster - that makes sense. I don't know why it is taking so long for me to think in terms of notability...--Gronk Oz (talk) 04:23, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

‎Reverting for no reason[edit]

When you undo someone's edit, you get a little message saying "If you are undoing an edit that is not vandalism, explain the reason in the edit summary." "Restore general link on accuracy and precision and text" is not an explanation. It's just a statement of what you've done. Here is why I've remade the change.

  • The use of brackets was wrong. Parentheses are for additional information or asides, and you can check if they are correctly used by reading the sentence with the parenthesis omitted. In this case, that yields "This device was assembled incorrectly, resulting in an extremely precise shape for the mirror", which is clearly absurd.
  • The manual of style says that links should be made to form "relevant connections to the subject of another article that will help readers understand the article more fully", and that you should "make sure that the reader knows what to expect when clicking on a link". It is not at all clear what to expect when the text "precise (but wrong)" is linked. The most logical thing to expect would be an article about the shape of the Hubble mirror. A general article about terminology related to systematic and random errors goes against the principle of least astonishment. The link is therefore unhelpful, as I said in my edit summary. (talk) 00:25, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
Two editors have ignored the talk page and simply re-reverted my changes. Their edit summaries were:
  • Agree about parens, but many people get confused about how something can be precise but not accurate. So the link is helpful.
This is not the place to educate them. Indeed, the link only served to confuse. The wording in the article is "precise but wrong". A link from that text has no intuitive destination. I changed the text to make it clearer, with no need to link to an article with marginal relevance.
  • adjust link to avoid confusion about what's being linked (easter egg)
Linking to accuracy and precision from "precise but wrong" is confusing. Linking just from "precise" is even more confusing and inaccurate.
Now if there is really a need to discuss straightforward improvements on the talk page, how about doing that, instead of just trying to force your preferred version back in for no clear reason? (talk) 03:51, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
  • These were clearly not simple reverts as you're implying. Changes were made to address the issues you pointed out. The accuracy and precision link was the relevant link for precise there. I don't get how that can be confusing. Now are there any remaining issues with the text itself? -Fnlayson (talk) 19:41, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
I am happy with the text. Are you? You did simply revert the majority of the edit I made, leaving an uninformative edit summary and then ignoring the talk page until now. Please do in future explain why you are reverting people's work, if you really need to revert it; spending time considering how to make an article better only to find that someone's undone your work without any explanation is exasperating. (talk) 22:59, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

Changed the title of the section to be more factually accurate. Most of the changes were not reverts (which means to go back to the original), but good faith attempts to converge on content and wording acceptable to all. Also, they were not for "no reason", but for reasons they explained in the edit summary, but you did not agree with. In most cases, if your change can easily be explained in one sentence, it's pretty standard practice to simply make the change and summarize in the edit summary (after all, Wikipedia says "Be bold!"), partially because the edit summary is much easier to view than the tail end of the talk page. If after several rounds of changes there is no convergence on a text acceptable to all, *then* it's time to use the talk page. This may seem a little brusque, especially to an editor who sees their obviously correct edit changed (or reverted) by someone with a different opinion, but in general this two step process (a few rounds of changes with edit summaries, then move to talk if no convergence) works pretty well, and minimizes editor effort in the normal case (at least for technical articles) where concensus is achieved fairly quickly. LouScheffer (talk) 03:46, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

How dare you change my words to imply that I said something I didn't, and that is false? I'm disgusted that you'd think that's an OK way to behave. Never edit or move someone's comment to change its meaning (bold from original). Are you trying to be provocative? Fnlayson reverted my changes. Fnlayson did not explain anything in the edit summary. Fnlayson and you ignored the talk page - I said "see talk" in an edit summary two days ago but you both carried on editing the article without bothering to read what I wrote here. When you finally do appear on the talk page, it's not to discuss any content but to tamper with my words and to pretend that you don't understand the situation. What exactly is your intention here? (talk) 12:07, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Section headings/labels are not considered part of someone's post. They can be modified per WP:TPO. -Fnlayson (talk) 14:11, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Looks like you're more into provoking people than building an encyclopaedia. Do not change my words to make it look like I said something I didn't. It's disgusting behaviour and you should apologise for it. (talk) 20:09, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia's relevant policy (WP:Talk page guidelines) says: "Section headings: Because threads are shared by multiple editors (regardless how many have posted so far), no one, including the original poster, "owns" a talk page discussion or its heading." -Fnlayson (talk) 20:41, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
I must respectfully disagree. An IP complained about some edits. If those who made them feel they are justified, a simple and calm explanation is all that is needed. Changing the section title to re-characterize the complaint in an argumentative way is not civil behavior. WP:CIVIL is a core policy of Wikipedia. Furthermore, adding the words "Others are changing my changes" suggests they were written by the complainer and they were not. Also see WP:BITE. Really, enough.--agr (talk) 21:26, 20 April 2015 (UTC)
Thank you very much, agr, for your intervention. BITE doesn't really apply because I've been editing for many years. But I can tell you that this kind of behaviour - reverts for no reason followed by tag team baiting and bullying - is the norm when you edit anonymously. It seems that for many people, baiting anyone they don't recognise is much more fun than building an encyclopaedia. It's vanishingly rare that any registered editor calls it out so I really appreciate it when they do. Thanks again. I await an apology from LouScheffer and Fnlayson for reverting for no reason, for refusing to discuss anything on the talk page, and for disgustingly changing the section title to make it look like I said something I didn't. (talk) 01:22, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
You're welcome, but if you've been here for a while you should realize that editors are sometimes more abrupt than one might like and positions tend to harden. Often the best approach is to let slights slide and focus on the task of improving the encyclopedia. As far as I can tell everyone in this discussion is trying to get the article right and that is the important thing.--agr (talk) 00:37, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Favorite Images[edit]

Is this item of any interest in this article? Top 10 Images Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists who have worked on the project chose their favorite pictures- Scientific American by Nature Jcardazzi (talk) 00:10, 24 April 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

It's too highly subjective to really have any value in the article, IMO. Huntster (t @ c) 01:29, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Is this item of any interest for the article? I understand it is subjective per the scientists opinions but it seems valuable as thoughts on Hubble history, or maybe as link in a further reading section? Jcardazzi (talk) 14:53, 24 April 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

I've merged this with the previous section as it is about the same topic. Huntster (t @ c) 16:11, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Add a Videos Section?[edit]

Could a Videos section be added near the bottom of the article? Reason: I have seen Hubble videos that add explanations to the Hubble mission which include interviews, videos and graphics which I think are educational for readers, which are not easily captured in text. Thank you, Jcardazzi (talk) 17:16, 26 April 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

  • Could this link to the public video be posted in the article for readers? Public Broadcasting System(PBS) Show: NOVA Title: Invisible Universe Revealed Aired: 04/22/2015 Lenght 53:30 Rating: TV-G Jcardazzi (talk) 20:34, 1 May 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

Again, articles do not exist as a place to dump links to any and all media resources. Huntster (t @ c) 22:38, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

This PBS public Television NOVA video specifically is a 25 year history of Hubble with explanations from NASA & scientists & repair astronauts explaining the Hubble history and scientific contributions.Jcardazzi (talk) 23:59, 1 May 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

And? Given it is Hubble and it is the 25th anniversary, I'm sure there are any number of documentaries that have or will be made about its history. Doesn't change anything. Huntster (t @ c) 03:57, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

And.. I think the PBS NOVA Hubble documentary is valuable to inform readers interested in getting knowledge not available in a text article format. There may be many 25 year documentaries, (there is 1 on the NASA website) I suggested one I thought valuable to readers.Jcardazzi (talk) 12:19, 3 May 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

25th Anniversary[edit]

Is there a wikipedia way to include a link to video articles created for the 25th Anniversary? Like a history section? For example: in which there is a video where 5 scientists discuss their top discoveries, which seems valuable historically. Thank you, Jcardazzi (talk) 20:10, 27 April 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

Just as we don't include links to any news article or website we come across, we don't do that with videos. Limit external links to citations and the most critical external links. I would suggest you find consensus before adding more links of any kind to the article. Huntster (t @ c) 04:32, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

Top right box website is no longer updated[edit]

Can be added to the box, and be marked as an archive?

The website in the top right box states "This website is kept for archival purposes only and is no longer updated", the bottom of the website states: "For the latest news on Hubble, visit" Jcardazzi (talk) 00:13, 30 April 2015 (UTC)jcardazzi

Yes check.svg Done Huntster (t @ c) 04:47, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

NASA-Audio (06/03/2015@1pm/edt/usa) - Moons of Pluto - "Surprising" Finds[edit]

NASA-Audio (Wednesday, June 3, 2015@1pm/edt/usa) - Panel of experts to discuss latest "surprising" findings by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Moons of Pluto.[1] - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 12:17, 29 May 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Chou, Felicia; Villard, Ray (May 28, 2015). "M15-085 - NASA to Hold Media Call to Discuss Surprising Observations of Pluto's Moons". NASA. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 

Article seems biased and needs more criticism[edit]

The article has a slight pro-astronomy bias and very little mention of the extensive criticism this program has received. For example, the "Servicing Mission 4" section reads like an "us vs. them" piece with much coverage of astronomer's POV and none for those trying to end the program. It's not clear if the bias in this article was an accident or by design.

The talk archives includes Talk:Hubble_Space_Telescope/Archive_2#The_Hubble_Wars. The Hubble Wars by Eric Chaisson looks like a decent source for criticism.

I looked through the talk archives to see if the subject of criticism had been brought up and found this talk thread which mentions the lack of criticism and also reminded me of some of the controversy surrounding SM4. The image posted with that talk comment also reminded me of the proposal to send two shuttles at the same time to the HST with the plan being that if one of the shuttles was heavily damaged during ascent it would be abandoned and everyone would return to Earth in the remaining shuttle. That plan does not get mentioned in the SM4 section. A similar plan had the second shuttle on the ground, ready to launch, as a rescue mission. That does not get mention either. Unfortunately,it seems that digging up and WP:RS the SM4 controversy will be a bit of a pain. --Marc Kupper|talk 22:25, 26 September 2015 (UTC)

A couple of points on the bad mirror[edit]

I remember back in the day the news media reported that the problem with the fuzzy mirror was that the specification did not correctly anticipate the change in the mirror shape due to the difference between Earth's gravity and the lack of same in orbit. Is that not the case?

No, that part of the manufacturing worked fine. There was a special support for the mirror that simulated zero g. LouScheffer (talk) 03:30, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

I also just watched a documentary on this on Nat Geo (Hubble's Cosmic Journey). They interviewed the engineers from Perkin-Elmer who (surprise!) blamed NASA, claiming that the reduction in funds and NASA's refusal to authorize more testing was the cause of the problem. The article here seems to give only NASA's side of the story - shouldn't there be more info from Perkin-Elmer's side? __209.179.55.119 (talk) 02:23, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

The article mostly summarizes the independent investigator's report on the error. LouScheffer (talk) 03:30, 3 November 2015 (UTC)
But in the interest of WP:NPOV shouldn't Perkin-Elmer's side also be presented? __209.179.0.121 (talk) 03:43, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Term "heavens" inappropriate in a scientific article[edit]

i feel the term 'the heavens' in the last passage of the article - "furthermore, space telescopes can study the heavens across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, most of which is blocked by Earth's atmosphere" is not appropriate in a scientific article. Anilrchn (talk) 09:07, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

Use of 'heavens' in a scientific context is not unusual, and is taken to mean the skies above and not the religious meaning. See this Nature article or this satellite tracking software. But if it bugs you you can change it... LouScheffer (talk) 13:12, 4 April 2016 (UTC)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وقل ربي زدني علما صدق الله العظيم — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:11, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

Google translates this as "In the name of God the Merciful and say to my Lord Simply the great truth of God" (I can't read it myself, and was curious what it said.) LouScheffer (talk) 14:57, 25 April 2016 (UTC)


Can someone please clarify if Hubble Space Telescope et al are supposed to be italicized? NASA doesn't italicize unmanned robotic platforms like Hubble or Voyager, and neither was Wikipedia until someone started making a bunch of changes. G0T0 (talk) 02:59, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

I would suggest that they should not be italicized, and often should not be bolded. It looks like "someone" is using it as a form of emphasis that is non-standard. I can understand their intentions, but they are probably incorrect. And if you do do something like that, it should only be rarely and for the first mention, not throughout. Maybe a more senior editor could offer some insight.--WillBo (talk) 03:32, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

I double-checked with the NASA Manual of Style and how Wikipedia does it everywhere else. Unmanned platforms such as Voyager 1 do not get italicized. G0T0 (talk)

@JorisvS, G0T0, and WillBo: Just like with ships (USS Enterprise), airplanes (Spirit of St. Louis), etc., proper names of vehicles should be italicised. The question is whether the proper name is the entirety of "Hubble Space Telescope" or if it would just be "Hubble" (aka Hubble Space Telescope). This would also apply to situations like "Spitzer Space Telescope". However, I would argue that names like "Solar and Heliospheric Observatory" and "Solar Dynamics Observatory" would not be italicized because their names are descriptive rather than proper nouns. This should probably be discussed at a broader forum, since it impacts a very large number of articles. Huntster (t @ c) 04:51, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
@WillBo: This is Wikipedia's Manual of Style, see WP:Italics. It differs from that of NASA. Just like every publisher has its house style, so does Wikipedia. --JorisvS (talk) 10:34, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
@Huntster: This is indeed an interesting point to clarify. Note first that descriptive names are really still proper nouns, just compound nouns; proper nouns are only contrasted with common nouns. The capitalization "Space" and "Telescope" indicates to me that these are part of the name, because if they weren't, they shouldn't have been capitalized. Compare "Juno spacecraft" and "New Horizons spacecraft", where "spacecraft" is not part of the name and hence not capitalized.
Also, our MoS says that spacecraft names should be italicized, but not those of the corresponding missions. This creates a lot of subtlety when both really have the same name, creating many instances where it is not easily clear whether to italicize or not. --JorisvS (talk) 10:34, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
The Wikipedia MOS specifically states that "vessels" should be italicized. By definition, a vessel's purpose is to contain something, which is why manned spacecraft are vessels and hence italicized. It would be quite unusual, IMO, for anyone to describe Hubble as a vessel. LouScheffer (talk) 15:51, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
MoS for italics says: Also, most real-world spacecraft at this time are not given proper names, thus Apollo 11, Saturn V, Falcon 9, etc. are not appropriate (except under another italics rule).--WillBo (talk) 18:30, 3 July 2016 (UTC)
Exactly, it isn't that specific spacecraft shouldn't be italicised, it is that non-specific items should not be italicised. For example, missions and rocket classes. This should likely be clarified at MoS, but even more so, this needs to be hashed out in a wider forum to find consensus and determine best practices. Huntster (t @ c) 00:08, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
FTR: Either you or I are misreading that. I think it DOES state that specific, modern spacecraft names should NOT be italicized, whether actual craft names or non-specific craft or other references.WillBo (talk) 07:41, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

From the point of view of the reader, I think the italics hurt. They interrupt the reading flow for (in this case) no good reason. In some cases italics help the reader understand the meaning, particularly if the non-italic names could make sense in the sentence. For example, "Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in The Spirit of Saint Louis" reads differently than "Piccard crossed the Atlantic in the spirit of Charles Lindbergh", and here the italics help the reader. But in the case of Hubble there is no ambiguity, and the reader is best served by uniform case. The two most famous scientific journals, Science and Nature, do not capitalize Hubble, nor does the New York Times or the BBC, so there is certainly support for this practice. LouScheffer (talk) 16:07, 3 July 2016 (UTC)

Information out of date[edit]

I read the following passage under the heading "Impact on astronomy":

"Although the HST has clearly helped astronomical research, its financial cost has been large. A study on the relative astronomical benefits of different sizes of telescopes found that while papers based on HST data generate 15 times as many citations as a 4 m (13 ft) ground-based telescope such as the William Herschel Telescope, the HST costs about 100 times as much to build and maintain.[144]"

The work cited dates to 2000. Is there more recent information on the cost-effectiveness of the Hubble?

Hubble's cancer contribution[edit]

Not sure if this was ever posted on the Hubble telescope wiki, but before NASA could send up a replacement they still wanted to make the best use of Hubble. So they developed image processing software to remove blur and declutter images of stars. When looking at the initial images and the processed images, there was a similarity of the initial image to microcalcification in mammogram images. Microcalcification is a very good predictor for breast cancer. Eventually the researchers enthusiastically teamed up and a grant was obtained to investigate if there was any potential use of NASA's image processing technique. This led to the technique being used in helping identify early stages of breast cancer.

If you guys think this is noteworthy enough to add to the Hubble wiki page, I'll compose a serious entry rather than a talk entry.

Old Source: — Preceding unsigned comment added by Interkin (talkcontribs) 13:46, 22 September 2016 (UTC)