"Celestial Fireworks" Commemorates Hubble's 25th

This picture is honestly stunning. I mean it. There have been tons of Hubble Telescope photos released in the years that it's been around, but this one really takes the 25th-birthday cake. NASA released a photo from the Hubble Telescope called "Celestial Fireworks" to commemorate its 25th anniversary. It's paired with a video, and the two combined should be in the dictionary next to awesome, because that word was actually meant to describe sights like this.

According to a press release from NASA, John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said:

Hubble has completely transformed our view of the universe, revealing the true beauty and richness of the cosmos. This vista of starry fireworks and glowing gas is a fitting image for our celebration of 25 years of amazing Hubble science.

He's so right. There really are some breathtaking photos from the Hubble Telescope that have been captured since April 24, 1990, many of which have caused us to pause and consider whether it's not just an image from someone who's really, really good at Photoshop. But it's very real, and I'll spare you the cliches of feeling incredibly small in the universe, but I'll give you another and say this photo leaves me (nearly) at a loss for words. And the video — the video! — will make you feel like you're right there in a spaceship flying forward.

Someone needs to set that to some Pink Floyd, am I right?

According to NASA, the centerpiece of the celestial fireworks are a cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2. Located in a "raucous stellar breeding ground known as Gum 29," the subject of the photo is 20,000 light years away from Earth. The star cluster is about 2 million years old and contains some of the galaxy's hottest, brightest, and biggest stars.

Since it was first launched in 1990, the Hubble Telescope has observed more than 38,000 celestial objects, NASA reports. It's made almost 137,000 trips around Earth, traveling about 3.4 billion miles. We're lucky it's been around for the last 25 years, not only for the astounding images it has provided, but also for the data it has collected, providing researchers with enough information to help us understand our universe so much better.

Image: NASA (1)