history in space

light can sometimes take years to travel from celestial bodies into our eyes. in a sense, looking through a telescope can allow you to look back in time.

what was happening on earth when the light that forms the image you're seeing originated? scroll to find out!

now

Voyager 1

17

light hours
from earth

Voyager 1 was launched by NASA on September 5, 1977 to study the outer Solar System. Operating for 37 years, 2 months and 3 days (as of November 8, 2014), it is farthest spacecraft from Earth having crossed the heliopause and entering interstellar space on August 25, 2012

2010

Alpha Centauri A

4.37

light years
from earth

Alpha Centauri is the brightest star in the southern constellation of Centaurus and the third brightest star in the night sky. The Alpha Centauri system is located 1.34 parsecs (4.37 light years from the Sun), making it the closest star system to our Solar System.

2006

Sirius A

8.5

light years
from earth

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star.

1989

VEGA

25

light years
from earth

Vega was the first star other than the Sun to be photographed (1850) and the first to have its spectrum recorded. It’s the fifth brightest star in the sky.

1939

CFBDSIR

75

light years
from earth

A rogue planet (87% chance) or a brown dwarf (13% chance) -- if it is a rogue planet, it is among the closest that has ever been spotted.

1580

Polaris

434

light years
from earth

The Northern Star or Pole Star, Polaris is the brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation. It has been used for navigation since at least the Late Antiquity.

53Ma

M87

53

million light years
from earth

M87 has a supermassive black hole at its core, and was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781