Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe

Course No. 1884
Professor David M. Meyer, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Share This Course
4.8 out of 5
224 Reviews
94% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 1884
Video Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Examine the Hubble's design and structure, and learn how small flaws can cause big problems.
  • numbers Uncover the mysteries of fascinating nebulae, including the Cat's Eye Nebula and the Crab Nebula.
  • numbers Trace galaxies near and far, including the Sombrero Galaxy and the Antennae Galaxy.

Course Overview

A few hundred miles above Earth, there is a remarkable telescope with a crystal-clear view across the universe. For two decades, the Hubble Space Telescope has been amassing discoveries that rival those of history's greatest scientists and explorers, making it the most important and productive scientific instrument ever built.

Although it never ventures beyond low-Earth orbit, Hubble's location high above the blurring effects of the atmosphere gives it an unrivaled vantage point for investigating phenomena throughout the cosmos:

  • Comet crash: In 1994 Hubble witnessed a rare solar system cataclysm—a series of comet strikes on Jupiter, which produced Earth-sized plumes of vaporized debris in the giant planet's atmosphere.
  • Star birth: Thanks to its incomparable resolution, Hubble has brought previously hidden stellar processes to light. Perhaps its most famous image shows a dramatic hotbed of new star creation in the Eagle Nebula.
  • Warped space: Exploiting Einstein's general theory of relativity, Hubble has used the space-warping properties of giant conglomerations of matter, such as galaxy clusters, to detect dark matter and far distant galaxies.
  • Deep time: In 2003–2004 Hubble trained its instruments on a tiny, seemingly blank spot of sky for a total of 268 hours, recording thousands of distant galaxies in the deepest optical view ever made of the early universe.

These and more than half-a-million other images reveal never-before-seen features of planets, stars, and galaxies with breathtaking clarity that sets Hubble apart from all other telescopes. Now is a good time to assess Hubble's accomplishments, as it enters the third decade of its operational life, by studying a carefully chosen sample of its landmark images in a visual feast that includes many of the greatest discoveries in astronomy during the 1990s and 2000s.

Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe is just such an overview, drawing on one noted astronomer's Top 10 list, including the four above, to take you on a dazzling voyage of discovery that delights the eye, feeds the imagination, and unlocks new secrets of the universe in 12 spectacularly illustrated half-hour lectures.

Your guide is Professor David M. Meyer of Northwestern University, an award-winning educator and a frequent user of the Hubble Space Telescope in his research on interstellar and extragalactic gas clouds. Professor Meyer has made Hubble images the hallmark of his popular astronomy lectures to undergraduates, amateur astronomers, and the general public, which teach fundamental concepts and recent breakthroughs through the super-sharp eye of Hubble.

For those new to astronomy, Experiencing Hubble reviews all the background needed for a well-informed tour of the otherworldly realm investigated by Hubble. And for experienced stargazers, Dr. Meyer gives a fascinating insider's perspective on the work of the superstar of telescopes.

Ten Fascinating Scientific Stories

For this course, Dr. Meyer selected 10 iconic Hubble images based on their visual beauty, scientific impact, and breadth of subject matter. Each image is the focus of its own lecture, which uses the iconic picture as a jumping-off point for exploring different aspects of the cosmos that Hubble has revealed in startling new detail. As you venture from the realm of the solar system to the farthest reaches of the universe, you get a wide-ranging education in such subjects as

  • comets and asteroids,
  • the life cycles of stars,
  • the evolution of galaxies,
  • dark matter, and
  • the evidence for the big bang.

In addition to the four images cited above, Professor Meyer's Top 10 list also shows you these:

  • Closely packed stars: Countless stars sparkle like multicolored gems toward the core of the Milky Way galaxy.
  • Dying star: An intricate pattern of debris expands outward from a sun-like star in its death throes.
  • Supernova relic: The filamentary Crab Nebula shows the remains of a titanic supernova explosion seen on Earth in the year 1054.
  • Stunning edge-on galaxy: Looking like a distant island, dark dust lanes and an eerie, central glow mark the Sombrero galaxy.
  • Cosmic distance ladder: Extreme depth-of-field in a view of galaxies near and far illustrates the cosmic distance ladder.
  • Colliding galaxies: A pair of merging galaxies reveals the likely future of our own Milky Way and the nearby Andromeda galaxy.

Professor Meyer's Top 10 list is only the beginning, since Experiencing Hubble includes hundreds of other astronomical photos, historical images, diagrams, and animations that take you deep into the fascinating scientific stories behind each of his iconic pictures. Dr. Meyer also talks about his own experiences on the world's biggest telescopes, including Hubble, giving a glimpse of the wonder that inspires all astronomers and their ongoing excitement at the flood of data from Hubble. With this remarkable instrument, it is as if a picture window on the cosmos has been wiped clean for the first time, presenting a glorious view to all eternity.

Hide Full Description
12 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Rationale for a Space Telescope
    Begin your exploration of the scientific stories behind 10 of the most fascinating images made by the Hubble Space Telescope. In this lecture, learn about Hubble's design and how its operations were almost cut short by a flaw in its mirror, a problem corrected during a space shuttle servicing mission. x
  • 2
    Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter
    Shortly after its optics were repaired, Hubble had the opportunity to observe the solar system event of the century: the collision of a string of comets with Jupiter in 1994. Examine Hubble's stunning image of the aftermath of this crash. x
  • 3
    The Sagittarius Star Cloud
    Hubble's view of a tiny region of the Sagittarius Star Cloud has an astonishing 12,000 stars. Study this dazzling image and learn how its unprecedented resolution is helping to chart the stellar history and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy. x
  • 4
    The Star Factory inside the Eagle Nebula
    Explore the most iconic Hubble photo of all: the glowing pillars of gas and dust at the core of the Eagle Nebula. Resembling a fantasy landscape, this view shows young stars emerging from their cocoons of gas and dust in an interstellar molecular cloud. x
  • 5
    The Cat's Eye Nebula—A Stellar Demise
    Turning from star birth to star death, get a preview of the sun's distant future by examining the Cat's Eye Nebulae. Such planetary nebulae (which have nothing to do with planets) are the exposed debris of dying stars and are among the most beautiful objects in the Hubble gallery. x
  • 6
    The Crab Nebula—A Supernova's Aftermath
    Stars more than eight times as massive as the sun take a radically different path at the end of their lives, disintegrating in a colossal explosion known as a supernova. Hubble's image of the famous Crab Nebula shows the expanding cloud of material from a supernova that was witnessed on Earth in the year 1054. x
  • 7
    The Sombrero Galaxy—An Island Universe
    In the 1920s, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered the true nature of galaxies as "island universes." Some 80 years later, the telescope named in his honor has made thousands of breathtaking pictures of galaxies. Focus on one in particular—an edge-on view of the striking Sombrero galaxy. x
  • 8
    Hubble's View of Galaxies Near and Far
    Hubble's image of the nearby galaxy NGC 3370 includes many faint galaxies in the background, exemplifying the telescope's mission to establish an accurate distance scale to galaxies near and far—along with the related expansion rate of the universe. Discover how Hubble's success has led to the concept of dark energy. x
  • 9
    The Antennae Galaxies—A Cosmic Collision
    A pair of interacting galaxies called the Antennae represent Hubble's most dramatic snapshot of a galactic collision. Learn how such events unfold over the course of millions of years and how the nearby Andromeda galaxy will have a similar encounter with our own Milky Way in the far distant future. x
  • 10
    Abell 2218—A Massive Gravitational Lens
    One of the consequences of Einstein's general theory of relativity is evident in Hubble's picture of the galaxy cluster Abell 2218. Investigate the physics of this phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, and discover how Hubble has used it to study extremely distant galaxies as well as dark matter. x
  • 11
    The Hubble Ultra Deep Field
    Completing your tour of 10 remarkable Hubble images, plunge into the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, the deepest optical image of the cosmos made to date. This extraordinary view shows 10,000 galaxies extending far beyond the Milky Way and back to the epoch of galaxy formation. x
  • 12
    Hubble's Legacy and Beyond
    Finish the course by looking at the future of Hubble and the next generation of space telescopes. Focus in particular on the search for extrasolar planets, how they are found, and the role Hubble and other telescopes play in extending our knowledge of possibly earthlike worlds. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 12 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • 72-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 72-page course synopsis
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

David M. Meyer

About Your Professor

David M. Meyer, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Dr. David M. Meyer is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Northwestern University, where he is also Director of the Dearborn Observatory and Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. He earned his B.S. in Astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles. He continued his studies as a Robert R....
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Images of the Universe is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 224.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love It! I am 83 yrs. old and last studied astronomy in College a long time ago. This has been a fun and very interesting video reminder and update on the latest discoveries. The presenter is very clear and uses examples I can understand. I would recommend this series to anyone who might be interested in astronomy and cosmology.
Date published: 2017-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awe inspiring Professor Meyers' lecture pace and content were a fine compliment to the absolute splendor of the Hubble images. Although I am not a scientist, Meyers helped me comprehend a bit of the science disclosed because of these pictures.
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Interesting I bought this for my niece and she may be to young for this course, but I enjoyed it and found the information to be very interesting and informative. I liked the way everything was explained so a layman can understand the science.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly amazing photos! The Hubble photos selected for this course are among the most amazing I ever expect to see -- and the explanation is first class. This is a winner!
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hubble I have become interested in Astronomy in the last few years, mainly because I am a mariner and this class was amazing with the pictures that have been made from the Hubble. They are simply amazing images and was worth the money.
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Only 12 lectures... I really enjoyed this course. I just wish it was longer. I felt like it was just getting started; and then it was over. I could suggest at least 25 more Hubble images that I'd love to hear more about.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind Boggling! Love the approach - basic astronomy by way of classic pictures from the Hubble. I plan to replay all episodes in order to retain all of this fascinating information. Good clear presentation by Dr. Meyer.
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought this for my husband, a retired scientist, and he loves it.
Date published: 2017-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Overview of Hubble! Many - Most - Americans barely recall the Hubble Space telescope. Probably, they only recall the fact that the Hubble Lens System had to be augmented via a Space Walk because of an idiotic mixup when the main lens was crafted. But this course will STUN anyone for whom that scenario represents the last story of Hubble. I especially refer to the last 3 lectures in this series - And YOU WILL BE STUNNED by the last two presentations...
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just amazing - and so very well taught! This complex topic was delivered in a very enthusiastic way and made that much more interesting, clear and understandable. Absolutely excellent instructor and format. Bulls-eye!
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was a gift for a friend I bought this as a gift for a friend. He says he likes it. we have not had time to talk about it.
Date published: 2017-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recommend The professor presents the subject in an informative and easy-to-understand format. The pictures are amazing.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WONDERFUL COURSE/ ASTONISHING IMAGES Professor Mayer is an excellent lecturer: his passion and knowledge are easily transmitted through the lectures. Stunning images of the universe help professor Mayer explain the wonders of the physics involved in multiple phenomena from star formation to the expansion of the cosmos. Wonderful course,I strongly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring Everyone who has wondered what scientists are seeing with the Hubble can now see some of that for themselves. David Meyer is wonderful!!! He loves the universe and transmits that in his teaching. I found this course to be really Inspiring, and bought two extra copies for gifts.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another winner from Dr. Meyer Professor Meyer is an outstanding lecturer and is very enjoyable to listen to. He seems to be lecturing to a college class in a natural manner and completely avoids the tendency of certain other lecturers to use corny metaphors. The script flows naturally along and he never gives the impression he is reading the script.
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Piece of Work I plan on watching this again. Professor David M. Meyer takes us on a journey across the cosmos. Although there are many Hubble images he could have talked about, he chose around 10 main images to talk about. However, in his lectures he covers many parts of the images and even shows other Hubble images. If you want to get into astronomy, this course will inspire you. No Hollywood theatrics here! This is much like being in college again.
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good analysis of images from 2010 and earlier I greatly enjoyed this course. The lectures were very informative with just the right amount of depth and detail. I thought the additional illustrations and animations really helped with understanding of the science behind the photos. My only minor complaint is that the course is in need of an update to include more recent images and science up to 2016.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This course is a great value. You will learn quite a bit about astronomy.
Date published: 2016-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Experencing Hubble Learning the science behind the discoveries made with the Hubble telescope has made me appreciate even more that this amazing device has been placed into service. This course has expanded my knowledge of the universe and makes me even more amazed that humans exist. The course title describes what Professor Meyer does.
Date published: 2016-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hubble photos and talk Fantastic high-res photos from Hubble telescope from outer space with much useful background informnation from the lecturer.
Date published: 2016-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hubble: Transforming our Knowledge of the Universe I'll open by stating that all 10 images shown are spectacular. What has always set Hubble apart is the level of detail possible with a space telescope. Given Hubble's output since the 1990's, choosing the 10 images for this course could not have been an easy task for Professor Meyer. Notably, his lectures have depth, as he explains the science behind each image, and talks about the people involved in the study of astronomy. Professor Meyer has published his findings from Hubble and is certainly qualified to help us appreciate what is possible with the HST. After completing the course, I would say the lectures I enjoyed the most were the last two. The Ultra Deep Field image is fascinating. Selecting what appeared to be a relatively empty corner of space and focusing many hours of telescope time, the results were a look back to the earliest history of the universe. The last lecture includes an image of the star Fomalhaut. The image is not actually one of the 10 studied, but what it shows is one of the very few direct images of an exoplanet. This lecture also looks ahead to the James Webb Space Telescope and one can only imagine what is in store for us once its capabilities are on line. My third review (DVD).
Date published: 2016-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthusiastically enjoyed by entire audience Our viewers are retired teachers, professors, and other professionals wishing to continue learning. The combination of lecture, beautiful photography, charts and graphs makes this series entertaining, challenging and informative. It has already been checked out by a viewer wanting a repeat viewing with another request in reserve. This format is much better for our purposes than your straightforward lectures.
Date published: 2016-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Experiencing Hubble: Understanding the Greatest Im I bought this as a gift for my husband and we have been watching this together. He has a limited background in astronomy and it's an area he wanted to learn more about it. We've been very impressed with the presentation of the instructor, even better than what we would expect to see in an actual classroom. His delivery is smooth and well paced, the images are spectacular and we both have learned some things that were knew to us. We have watched the first four presentations so far and are so impressed we've decided that these courses are very much worth any amount of money. We've agreed that having a DVD of the course will allow us to watch it over and over again, and each time learning something new that we missed the first time. We have plans on ordering other courses. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great value and wonderful subject matter. I have always been interested in our universe and star systems. The photographs produced from the Hubble really excite the mind as to the possibilities of what is out there in space. This course is very good and explains details without bogging you down in formulas, etc. The explanation and the course material is concise and easy to follow.
Date published: 2016-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More than just a slide show First of all, what this course is not. It is NOT a slide show of the most spectacular images from the Hubble Space Telescope. If you want that, go to the Hubble's own WEB site. This course is a short (only 12 lectures - I wish there had been more) astronomy course concentrating on a small number of representative Hubble images. If you have looked at Hubble images and wondered what you were seeing, this course is for you. What Prof Meyer does is take an image and dissect it, explaining how it was made, obstacles that had to be overcome, limits to what you can see and, most interesting for me, what forces produced what you do see. Some background in physics (my last physics course was 50 years ago!) is useful to understanding some of the terms, eg the Doppler effect, although Prof Meyer does explain these in sufficient detail to understand the images. I came away with much more than the "wow effect" of just looking at the images. I feel I have a much greater understanding of the complexities of outer space and all that is out there. If you want to learn, not just be awed, this course is for you. A few reviewers have commented on Prof Meyers voice and gestures. As a retired university biology professor with 33 years experience lecturing large and small classes all I can say is that this is a common complaint from students. Prof Meyers is not a highly charged speaker but is far from monotone and I found his lectures eminently interesting. I did find his gesturing mildly annoying at the beginning but recall my own experience. The problem is what to do with these two gangling appendages we call arms when not writing on the board or pointing to something on a slide. I often wished I could retract my arms into my shoulders. But these are minor items and did not detract from the learning experience at all.
Date published: 2016-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful course I am really enjoying this lecture series (I've completed 6). Professor Meyer does an excellent job of making difficult concepts (especially of size and distance) understandable. The visuals are stunning. I have already recommended this course to others. It is well worth the purchase price, and then some!
Date published: 2016-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very enjoyable I learned a lot of amazing stuff from this course. Beautiful pictures, excellent presentation and just plain fun!
Date published: 2016-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly enjoying! Our "treat" on a day is sitting down and listening to Professor Dave show and explain 10 of the most beautiful and amazing things in the Universe. (One by one, of course.) We will have to listen several times to understand some of what he's presenting. However, for such a complex subject with his vast knowledge, we think he does well at presenting in a way we rank amateurs can understand. Thank you for this.
Date published: 2016-06-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing! This series of twelve video lectures by Professor David Meyer has the feel of an infomercial for the Hubble telescope. The material presented is organized in terms of distance from the Earth, from least to greatest, but the overall system is not explained. The viewer’s conclusion can only be that Hubble is great but his or her understanding of the Universe is not greatly enhanced. The series is marred in many other ways: • viewers are repeatedly told that Hubble produces high resolution images but those shown are just not that, doubtlessly because they are enlarged considerably; • computer animations are frequently not clearly distinguished from Hubble images; • Professor Meyer is passionate but not particularly fascinating as a lecturer with rather repetitious gestures and voice inflections; • annoyingly, he wears the same black shoes and suit for the whole series, changing his tie for each lecture but not necessarily his shirt (oftentimes short sleeved); • he appears to live somewhat in his own world and for instance spends much time discussing the procedure for reserving Hubble time, what is of no interest for his audience; • he comes up with strange anthropomorphisms, referring for instance to photons hitting your eyeballs from every direction … shortly after the Big Bang; • production is not up to par with too much time spent on Professor Meyer (with studio lights reflecting in his glasses) and not enough on telescope images; • no reference is made to astronomical research besides Hubble or how it is affected by it, in the US and abroad; • no mention is given of what may come after Hubble in terms of new detection technology. Overall, this course definitely does not qualify as a worthwhile investment in time or money for potential buyers.
Date published: 2016-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Experiencing Hubble Great job of presenting complicated material in an interesting and understandable way.
Date published: 2016-06-06
  • y_2020, m_7, d_7, h_15
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.10
  • cp_3, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_27, tr_197
  • loc_en_US, sid_1884, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 61.73ms

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought