See what the cosmos looked like on your special day.

By Stacey Leasca
Updated July 14, 2020
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This image is one of the most photogenic examples of the many turbulent stellar nurseries the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed during its 30-year lifetime. The portrait features the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbour NGC 2020 which together form part of a vast star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, approximately 163 000 light-years away.
NASA, ESA, and STScI

The Hubble telescope is celebrating a milestone birthday this month, but, rather than celebrate alone, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are making this celebration all about you.

On April 24, 1990, NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit, where it has recorded some of the most stunning images of the planets and stars around us, inspiring us all to dream a little bigger.

“Hubble’s seemingly never-ending, breathtaking celestial snapshots provide a visual shorthand for its exemplary scientific achievements,” NASA and the ESA explained in a blog post about the telescope’s birthday. “Unlike any other telescope before it, Hubble has made astronomy relevant, engaging, and accessible for people of all ages. The mission has yielded to date 1.4 million observations and provided data that astronomers around the world have used to write more than 17,000 peer-reviewed scientific publications, making it one of the most prolific space observatories in history. Its rich data archive alone will fuel future astronomy research for generations to come.”

This year, to mark its 30th anniversary in space, Hubble is celebrating with a portrait of two nebulae that reveal “how energetic, massive stars sculpt their homes of gas and dust.”

The image shows NGC 2014 and NGC 2020, a fiery orange and red nebulae and deep blue nebulae respectively, that appear to be sitting side-by-side. However, as NASA and ESA explained, they are actually part of one giant star formation complex.

“The star-forming regions seen here are dominated by the glow of stars at least 10 times more massive than our Sun,” the space agencies said. “These stars have short lives of only a few million years, compared to the 10-billion-year lifetime of our Sun.”

Truly, both NASA and ESA understand just how inspiring and magnificent images like this really are.

“The Hubble Space Telescope has shaped the imagination of truly a whole generation, inspiring not only scientists but almost everybody,” Günther Hasinger, Director of Science for the European Space Agency, said in a statement. “It is paramount for the excellent and long-lasting cooperation between NASA and ESA.”

So, how does this all involve you? To honor the momentous anniversary, both agencies created a tool so you can see what Hubble saw on your birthday.

All you need to do is head to the dedicated website and enter your birthdate. It will then show you the gorgeous intergalactic view that Hubble captured on your special day.

Want even more fun? NASA is inviting everyone to make a birthday cake (either traditional baking or out of arts and crafts materials) and share it on social media using the hashtags #Hubble30BDayCake and #Hubble30. If nothing else, it’s a great home learning experience for children in quarantine or just another excellent excuse to eat cake while starring at the stars tonight.