Celebrate Hubble’s 25th Birthday With 26 Of Its Most Gorgeous Images

A Gallery Of Photos Curated By The Person Who Made Most Of Them
Katie Peek / STSci, NASA

Twenty-five years ago today, Hubble launched into space, nestled in the bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Over those years, the space telescope produced the most inspiring images of the cosmos we humans had ever seen.

A great many of those eye-candy photos were created by one man, Zolt Levay, who joined the then-newly-formed Hubble organization in 1983 and has been there ever since. He’s the guy who takes the data that scientists collect with the telescope and re-mixes it into images made for public consumption.

When we decided to honor Hubble’s heritage with a gallery of 26 photos—one for each year of its orbital tenure, plus the official 25th-anniversary image—Levay seemed like the ideal person to curate it. Here are his picks.

explosion of supernova 1987A remnant in 1990
A small bit of the edge of the Orion Nebula as seen by Hubble in 1991
An orange ring of gas at the core of the galaxy NGC 4261
Cygnus Constellation Loop as seen by Hubble in 1993.
A blue-and-white, crystal-clear spiral galaxy viewed by Hubble in 1994.
pillars of creation, three tall columns of space gas
Thousands of galaxies as seen from Hubble
A rainbow zig-zag that runs in a line from top to bottom, with blue zigs on the left and red zags to the right.
A face-on spiral galaxy with a ring of star-forming regions in red and blue around the center.
Mars. A snapshot of the whole planet.
A globby gray-and-white nebula surrounded by ring of orange-and-green nebula material
An edge-on galaxy that curves downward on the left
A galaxy in the upper left of the image has a huge tail that stretches down to the lower right of the image
A mousy brown-gray blob of interstellar gas with a brilliant red star shining from within
A blue area of light encircled by orange gas, in space
Whirlpool galaxy, big spiral galaxy
The pink-and-orange panorama of the Orion Nebula, which is enveloped by darker, colder gas
A handful of bright blue in a V shape, surrounded by orange and blue wisps of gas
two galaxies mid collision
The planet Saturn, viewed nearly edge-on, with four of its moons visible in the foreground
A bunch of stars and gas, blue in some parts and orange in others
Two galaxies collide and happen to resemble a rose
Blue, white, and orange gas with a delicate filamentary structure in space
Wispy pink gas and stars that together resemble the head of a horse
A bunch of galaxies in space as seen by Hubble
Stars and gas shining bright, in space