When Space Shuttle Discovery launched into clear blue skies, on April 24, 1990, no one could have anticipated just how apt the space craft’s name would turn out to be. After all, the crowning jewel among Discovery’s cargo was the Hubble Space Telescope—a scientific marvel that has enthralled generations of space enthusiasts with awe-inspiring, gasp-inducing views of our universe.
Over the past three decades, this eyepiece to the heavens, lovingly referred to as “the people’s telescope,” has allowed us to glimpse far reaches of the cosmos we never could have imagined and helped us make life-altering scientific breakthroughs along the way. We’ve beheld the birth and explosive deaths of stars, uncovered gargantuan, light-gobbling black holes, and glimpsed the mysterious surface of Pluto (which is definitely a planet. Fight us).
In honor of Hubble’s 30th birthday, we’ve selected 10 of its most mind-blowing images that continue to make us dream of the stars. See more of the amazing images in Hubble’s vast catalogue at hubblesite.org.