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The Hubble Pop Culture Contest
 
Hubble skinned guitar Click image for larger version
The Hubble skinned guitar, winner of First Prize for Most Artistic
Image credit: Nathanial Burton-Braford

The waterhubblemelon Click image for larger version
The WaterHubbleMelon, winner of Third Prize for Funniest
Image credit: Sezgin Babacan

My Hubble, a full size sculpture of the telescope Click image for larger version
"My Hubble," winner of First Prize for Largest, created by artist Peter Hennessey and submitted by
Lina Canas
Image credit: Peter Hennessey

Album cover, Binaural by Pearl Jam Click image for larger version
Winner of a special prize for Most Impact, the cover of the album "Binaural," by Pearl Jam, submitted by Michael Grabois
Image credit: Pearl Jam

Space Fantasy artwork Click image for larger version
"Space Fantasy," winner of Third Prize for Weirdest
Image credit: Sergio Cantu

Hubble Bubblegum from Futurama Click image for larger version
Winner of Second Prize for Funniest, Hubble Bubble gum featured in the TV cartoon "Futurama" created by by Matt Groening
Image credit: Matt Groening, submitted by Seanie Morris

Images used with permission.
All rights reserved.
"I love Hubble. I have given lectures on it, used its images for astronomy lectures to kids and adults and at our astronomy club (…). I think it is probably the most important instrument we have ever launched into orbit around Earth, if not for the scientific information it has collected, then for its ability to take fantastic images of what the cosmos around us looks like."

-Seanie Morris


In recent years the Hubble Space Telescope, a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), has become one of NASA’s most renowned and popular missions, on a par with the moon landing and the International Space Station. The awe-inspiring images that the telescope has given us, of fields of ancient galaxies and cloudlike star "nurseries" many light-years across, have captured the interest of the public and brought the physics of the universe within the reach of popular culture. The Hubble mission also offers human drama, and even an element of humor, with mission astronauts (including the current Administrator of NASA, Charlie Bolden!) leaving the safety of their spacecraft in order to deploy and repair the telescope. The Hubble mission, despite its bumpy start, has a certain exciting and romantic quantity to it, capable of capturing the public’s wonder and imagination.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, the ESA created the Hubble Pop Culture Contest. The competition was open to everyone, and all that a person had to do to participate was to find an example of Hubble imagery in popular culture. A jury, composed of graphic designers, astronomers, and communications specialists, would then award a first, second, and third prize in each of five categories: Most Artistic, Weirdest, Funniest, Largest, and Smallest. The prizes, as specified on the contest’s website, were:

1st Prize
  • An iPod touch, engraved with the ESA logo and filled with Hubble videos and images
  • A high quality mounted Hubble print (LUMAS)
  • Three books ("Cosmic Collisions," "Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery" and "Hidden Universe")
  • "Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery" and "Eyes on the Skies" DVDs
  • A set of ESA/Hubble posters & postcards
2nd Prize
  • A high quality mounted Hubble print (LUMAS)
  • Three books ("Cosmic Collisions," "Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery" and "Hidden Universe")
  • "Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery" and "Eyes on the Skies" DVDs
  • A set of ESA/Hubble posters & postcards
3rd Prize
  • Three books ("Cosmic Collisions," "Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery" and "Hidden Universe")
  • "Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery" and "Eyes on the Skies" DVDs
  • A set of ESA/Hubble posters & postcards

People from all over the world submitted images from popular culture that referenced the Hubble Space Telescope and its discoveries. The entries ranged from second-life dresses decorated with images of nebulae to a piece of toast with the shape of the Hubble telescope burned into it. Participants seemed genuinely happy and proud to share their Hubble imagery, and the Flickr group for the contest is still open and active.

"I have had a love affair with astronomy ever since I was a young child. In 1994 I helped form a science club at a local school and we used Hubble images to capture the imagination (and attention) of all the pupils. Hubble's images reached out to everyone, and enabled them to visualize the majesty and beauty of the world beyond the everyday, in a way that no other telescope ever had before," said Nathaniel Burton-Bradford, winner of the first place prize for "Most Artistic:" a Hubble Skinned Guitar.

Some of the participants created new pieces of artwork especially for the competition, like Patricia Anderson, whose Second Life virtual Hubble Gown was made entirely out of pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. Patricia then went even further and gave her avatar Hubble imagery in its eyes and hair. Sezgin Babacan also came to the competition with a personal work of art, the WaterHubbleMelon, which won third place in the "Funniest" category.

The Hubble Space Telescope was created to help further our understanding of space, and it has done such a good job that its image and its discoveries have become part of the way we see our world. It has shown us so much of our past and present universe that now we wear it, play it, burn it into our buttered toast, and carve it into our watermelons. The Hubble Space Telescope has brought deep space to us, and shown us that it's our home.