Hubble Pop Culture Contest

In honour of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s 20th anniversary, the European Space Agency (ESA) is proud to present the ESA Hubble Pop Culture competition — a free competition that calls for everyone who loves Hubble to find examples of it in popular culture.

The competition closed on 1 August 2010. A special edition of the Hubblecast highlights some of the best entries of this competition and the stories behind them. It is available in several formats, including HD.

The Flickr Group created for this occasion will remain open. If you come across other images of Hubble in your everyday life, we encourage you to submit them to the group!

The jury, composed of astronomers, graphic artists and communication specialists, had a difficult time selecting the best among the numerous qualifying entries. After much discussion — and much fun in arguing back and forth — we are now pleased to announce the winners of the Hubble Pop Culture competition.

Most Artistic:

1st prize:

Hubble Skinned Guitar, submitted by Nathanial Burton-Bradford
(credit: Wrap Edge)

Nathanial works as a graphic designer, but is also passionate about music. He was researching pictures of guitars when he came across the image he eventually submitted, and bookmarked it for future reference. When he heard about the competition, he thought the Wrap Edge Guitar was an ideal choice as it encapsulated his love of music and astronomy in one amazing picture.

I have had a love affair with astronomy ever since I was a young child. In 1994 I helped form a science club at a local school and we used Hubble images to capture the imagination (and attention) of all the pupils. Hubble's images reached out to everyone, and enabled them to visualise the majesty and beauty of the world beyond the everyday, in a way that no other telescope ever had before.

The company behind the picture is Wrap Edge -

You can follow Nathanial’s Flickr account here.

2nd prize: 

Guitar Trio CD cover, by Pablo Mandel
(credit: Pablo Mandel)

Pablo Mandel is the designer of the CD cover for the California Guitar Trio’s newest album. He was finalising the layout when he found out about the competition, just one day before the deadline. Perfect timing!

Earlier this year he was contacted by the band to design the cover of their latest album, Andromeda. Pablo spent three months considering different options, but he was sure of one thing — he did not want to translate the name into the image literally.  He had almost settled on another image, when he decided to use this one from Hubble.

Since I was a very young child, I was an astronomy enthusiast in love with space photography. I received the Cosmos book for my 12th birthday, and later owned a small telescope. I think the Hubble in Popular Culture contest was a great initiative, a just recognition of how much influence the Hubble images have. It is truly a part of popular culture, very inspiring work that speaks to the best in us. The power behind these amazing pictures connects us with important questions: who we are, why we are here, what the purpose of life is. And even when we are not aware of these questions, something moves deep inside us when we look at a Hubble photograph. When I was a 12-year-old I couldn't put it into words, yet there are things that are best communicated without words.

For more information about the album, visit the California Guitar Trio website.

You can follow Pablo’s Flickr account here.

3rd prize: 

Hubble in Warhol by Boby Pirovics
(credit: Boby Pirovics)

After finding out about the competition, Boby was thinking of what he could use. When he received a couple of books on architecture and art, he noticed a cover with Andy Warhol’s work. He was impressed by the style and so he looked on the Hubble website to see which image would best fit the Warhol way. He finally decided on one image with the space telescope and using high contrast, he started processing it by creating three-dimensional effects using complementary colours.

I believe that this picture of the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit symbolises the joy of seeing it running even today, and constantly bringing us more information. It is undoubtedly one of our great discoverers. Its images captivate me and it makes me realise more and more how small we are in this vast Universe.


1st prize: 

Hubble at NY Fashion Week 2010, submitted by Viviana Niro
(credit: Marcio Madeira / and Ruffian fashion brand)

Viviana found out about the competition on Facebook and thought it was a very interesting idea to explore how much scientific images have infiltrated popular culture. She knew that fashion designers have used astronomical images, so she browsed the internet and found the remarkable collection from Ruffian that she submitted.

Antique constellation prints and images of Orion taken by the Hubble Space Telescope decorated the designers' silk blouses, and suits with trim, cropped jackets and flaring, to-the-knee skirts were cut in silvery bouclé inspired by Vincent van Gogh's masterpiece The Starry Night. (Source:

As a physicist, I recognise the impressive work done by the Hubble Space Telescope and by the astronomers working with it to expand our knowledge about the Universe, and also to change the view of the Universe in the mind of the general public. My favourite image is probably the famous sequence of expanding shells in V838 Mon, and more recently the impressive Butterfly Nebula NGC 6302. From a scientific point of view, I also like the image of the galaxy NGC 4526 with the explosion of a supernova, because it is fascinating to see the beauty of a phenomenon we study with rigorous calculations...

See the Ruffian collection at:

You can follow Viviana’s Flickr account here.

2nd prize:

Second Life Hubble Gown, by Patricia F Anderson
(credit: Patricia F Anderson)

A couple of months ago one of Patricia’s friends told her about the Hubble Pop Culture contest and encouraged her to submit her gown. This is part of a line of garments she has made in Second Life called My Sky Mother series. She was inspired by the competition and decided to create a new item especially for the competition. Note that the character she created also has Hubble eyes and hair.

3rd prize:

Space fantasy, by Sergio Cantú
(credit: Sergio Cantú)

The Space Fantasy collage was made by Sergio himself, combining images from Hubble with references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, crop circles and much more.

I think Edwin Hubble made a great contribution to science in general. My opinion is that everything is interconnected and just as the microscope lets you jump in the micro cosmos, the telescope lets you jump out to the macro cosmos … that’s amazing!

You can follow Sergio’s Flickr account here.


1st prize:

Hubble cross stitch, by Rachel Hobson
(credit: Rachel Hobson)

Rachel found out about the competition via our Twitter feed @Hubble_space. She created the cross-stitch pattern and stitched the image herself. This was a project she had had in mind for some time, so when she heard about the competition, she took the opportunity to implement it. The inspiration for the image lies in a quote from John Grunsfeld in the Hubble IMAX 3D movie. You can read the entire story on her blog.

I find almost every image in the Hubble gallery inspiring, fascinating and humbling. Some of my favourite images are pictures of the astronauts who have serviced Hubble through the years as they work on Hubble. More proof that humans are critical to space exploration.

You can follow Rachel’s Flickr account here.

2nd prize:

Hubble Bubble Gum, submitted by Seanie Morris
(credit: Comedy Central)

Seanie is a big fan of Futurama, as well as a having a passion for astronomy. When he heard about the competition she immediately thought of the episode called “War is the H-word” of the Futurama series, where the main character goes into a store and buys the Hubble Bubble chewing gum.

I love Hubble. I have given lectures on it, used its images for astronomy lectures to kids and adults and at our astronomy club (…). I think it is probably the most important instrument we have ever launched into orbit around Earth, if not for the scientific information it has collected, then for its ability to take fantastic images of what the cosmos around us looks like. It must be Number One of the Seven Wonders of the Electronic and Space Exploration World. It is hard to nail down a particular favourite photo, but one of my favourites has to be among the ones taken of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's impact on Jupiter in 1994. I painted a few of them based on photos taken by Hubble that I got from ESA back in 1995. The colours and sense of depth within the photos were amazing. I think that the fact the 2010: Odyssey Two is also one of my favourite films helped!

Futurama is owned and screened by Comedy Central.

You can follow Seanie’s Flickr account here.

3rd prize:

WaterHubbleMelon, by Sezgin Babacan
(credit: Sezgin Babacan)

A Science and Technology teacher, Mert Koçer announced the competition to his students. Sezgin Babacan was motivated to participate in the competition by his interest in space. His first thought was to do a Hubble on a water melon and submit it for the Funniest category.
I would like Hubble to go on working and send us more pictures. I love Hubble so much.

You can follow Mert’s Flickr account here, from which the picture was submitted.


1st prize:

My Hubble by Hennessey, submitted by Lina Canas
(credit for art work: Peter Hennessey, credit for picture: Brian Waldron*)

Lina works for a science outreach team in Espinho, Portugal and she was involved in an event dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of Hubble, this April. When hearing about the competition, she remembered seeing the works of Australian artist Peter Hennesey on the Universe Today website. They were perfect for the Largest category.

Peter Hennessey’s My Hubble (the universe turned in on itself) (2010) is meant to give us the opportunity to have a direct experience of the far-away instrument that has become part of our lives through its images and discoveries. It is made from plywood and steel, and is a life-size replica of the Hubble Space Telescope. However, unlike the one orbiting around Earth, My Hubble is turned inwards, looking at a platform where everyone is free to design their own universe in plasticine and sand.

Hubble, and of course all the team working behind it, are truly amazing in many ways and its contributions to science over the past twenty years represent a giant leap in our knowledge of the Universe. But from the science outreach point of view I think Hubble truly made a major difference, which catapults it light-years ahead of other scientific projects. Hubble’s outreach team changed the way general audiences look at science (and not only astronomy) and most of all it has contributed to establishing the great relevance that science outreach units have, as well as played an inspirational role for other science outreach teams to follow in the years to come.

For the work of Peter Hennessey please visit his website.

You can follow Lina’s Flickr account here.

*The picture linked on Flickr belongs to Brian Waldron and it is not exactly the same picture that the participant submitted in order to avoid credit issues.

2nd prize:

Hubble on Lovell Telescope, by Alastair Gunn
(credit: Alastair Gunn, for Jodrell Bank Observatory)

Alastair was browsing the Space Telescope website when he saw the competition. He decided to participate and submitted a photo showing a Hubble image projected on the surface of the 76-metre Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK, during the celebrations of its 50th anniversary in October 2007.

Alastair was the project manager for the event and saw the video being projected on the dish of the telescope, making it three times the size of the world’s largest IMAX cinema screen.

Read more about Jodrell Bank Observatory on their website.

Follow Alastair’s Flickr account here.

3rd prize:

The Big Hubble Mosaic, by Barnabas Rumpf
(credit: Barnabas Rumpf)

The Big Hubble Mosaic was created by Barnabas using the most famous pictures from Hubble. Barnabas is an amateur astronomer and he found out about the competition by browsing our website.

My favourite Hubble images are the Carina Nebula: star birth in the extreme  and Hubble’s sharpest view of the Orion Nebula.

Follow Barnabas’s Flickr account here.


1st prize:

Tiny HST by C. Renee James

Renee found the Tiny HST on a website that specialised in miniatures while searching for images to submit to our competition. The object is smaller than a coin and comes from a Choco Egg, a sweet–toy product produced by Furuta in Japan.

My absolute favourite Hubble photo is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). All those galaxies in such a tiny field of view, it's truly mind-boggling, and very philosophical as well. We tiny creatures can create something to get a snapshot of such a remote and vast part of the Universe, and yet those galaxies cannot even begin to conceive of us. I remember when the original Hubble Deep Field was unveiled it was jaw-dropping, but I think the HUDF has since superseded it in my estimation.

You can follow Renee’s Flickr account here.

2nd prize:

20 years of Hubble coin, by Ivayla Kalcheva
(credit: Ivayla Kalcheva)

Ivayla found out about the competition during one of the astronomy courses she attends at the Varna Observatory. She was intrigued by the topic of the competition, mostly because she thinks it shows people to what extent space exploration has had and how it continues to affect many aspects of our everyday life.

The inspiration for the Hubble coin came from a friend of hers, who is an avid anniversary coin collector, so Ivayla decided that the Hubble 20th Anniversary could not go by without one!

From the Hubble images I have seen, I particularly admire the panoramic view of the Orion Nebula, because for me it is a perfect example of the intricate beauty of space. My absolute favourites, however, are the Hubble Deep and the Hubble Ultra Deep Fields, as they allow us a glimpse of the vastness of our Universe while at the same time giving us unprecedented knowledge of the greater structures in it. In my view, the HDF and the HUDF and, most importantly, their impact on our perception of the surrounding Universe, are the greatest contributions of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Follow Ivayla’s Flickr account here.

Special prize of the Jury, for highest impact

Binaural, submitted by Michael Grabois
(credit: Pearl Jam)

Michael was informed about our completion via the Twitter feed of a friend. He had several images in his mind, among them the episode of “Babylon 5” that used the “Pillars of Creation” photo as a background image during a space battle, but in the end he decided to submit the CD cover of album “Binaural” by Pearl Jam.

The album's cover art is a Hubble Space Telescope photo of the Hourglass Nebula. Hubble Space Telescope photos of the Helix Nebula and Eagle Nebula are also featured in the inside cover and liner notes for this album. (…) Regarding the artwork, Bassist Jeff Ament said (…) “One of the themes that we've been just realizing that in the big scheme of things, even the music that we make when we come together, no matter how powerful it is, it's still pretty minuscule. I think for me the whole space theme has a lot to do with scale. You know, you look at some of those pictures, and there are thirteen light years in four inches in that picture." (Source: Wikipedia)

Michael is a NASA contractor. He has worked on all of the Hubble shuttle missions in some capacity, including a Mission Controller and an astronaut instructor. I'm proud to have done my small part in bringing the universe down to Earth.

Learn more about Pearl Jam album on their website.

Follow Michael’s Flickr account here.

Congratulations to all the winners!

While we did our best to track the original authors of the entries to give them proper credit, we apologise if we missed some or did not get some of them right. If needed, please contact us at, we will immediately make any necessary corrections.

In order to submit images first join our Flickr group here and then add your photos to the pool.

Tag your photos with one, or more categories. (ex: Most Artistic)

Make sure your photos are visible by anyone (public) and marked as safe.

You must have a Flickr account, if you don’t have one set it up here.

Powered by


The goal is to see how much the beloved Hubble Space Telescope and its science has been co-opted into popular culture and show a portfolio of the many creative examples that it has inspired.

The entries will be judged on their relevance to the category and on the basis of their originality and aesthetic as well as technical qualities.

Entrants must take photos and confirm that they have the right to distribute them. The full, detailed rules are available below.


A 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winner will be named for each category. The winners will receive cool prizes!

  • 1st Prize
    • An iPod touch, engraved with the ESA logo and filled with Hubble videos and images
    • A high quality mounted Hubble print (LUMAS)
    • 3 books (Cosmic Collisions, Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery and Hidden Universe)
    • Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery  and Eyes on the Skies DVDs
    • A set of ESA/Hubble posters & postcards
  • 2nd Prize
    • A high quality mounted Hubble print (LUMAS)
    • 3 books (Cosmic Collisions, Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery and Hidden Universe)
    • Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery  and Eyes on the Skies DVDs
    • A set of ESA/Hubble posters & postcards
  • 3rd Prize
    1. 3 books (Cosmic Collisions, Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery and Hidden Universe)
    2. Hubble — 15 Years of Discovery  and Eyes on the Skies DVDs
    3. A set of ESA/Hubble posters & postcards


  1. Look around you and see where Hubble has crossed the line from pure astronomy/science into popular culture. Have you seen a piece of art inspired by Hubble? Book covers? Wall murals? Car paintings? When you find your example, take a photo of it.
  2. Once you produced an image you are pleased with, save the original file in your working format, and generate a moderately sized JPEG for submission. The instructions on how to submit your entries are listed below .
  3. Save your image as a moderately sized JPEG for submission.
  4. Then, join the “Hubble pop culture” group in Flickr If you don’t have a Flickr account, create a free one on
  5. Upload your image to the Hubble Pop Culture group
    • Click on You -> Upload photo and videos to your account
    • Choose the image from your computer
    • Once the image is uploaded, choose "Send to group" and "add to group pool" and choose "Hubble Pop Culture"
    • Tag your photos with one, or more categories. (ex: Most Artistic)
    • Make sure your photos are visible by anyone (public) and marked as safe.
  6. We will accept submissions until 31 July 2010.
  7. For enquiries about the competition, you can contact us at

Rules and Restrictions

In simple words, the rules of the competition, which are described in full below, state that the submissions have to be original photographs taken by the applicant, not infringe any copyrights, and that ESA is allowed to use the image afterwards against crediting.

  1. The competition is organized by the Education and Public Outreach Department of the European Southern Observatory, on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) 
  2. The competition is open to everyone, except ESO/ESA, employees and contractors, and their immediate family. Children under the age of 18 must have their parent's permission.
  3. By submitting an image to the competition, you do confirm to the organizer that
    1. it was produced by you (i.e. your original work)
    2. it does not infringe the copyright or any other right of any third party

  4. There is no restriction on the number of images submitted by anyone. Each entry will be judged separately.
  5. The competition ends on 31 July 2010 at 24:00 CEST.
  6. The entries must be submitted via the Flickr group “Hubble Pop Culture”.
  7. By submitting an image, you grant ESA/ESO a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to use, publicly perform and publicly display your image, under the ESO copyright rules described in (“Creative Common Attribution”), with credit to ESA/ESO/Your Name. The winning images, and possibly other entries may be published on the ESA/Hubble website, or affiliated web sites.
  8. You agree that if you win a prize, your name and image can be used for public relations publications.
  9. The images submitted will be evaluated by a panel of 4 judges, including public outreach experts and the Head of the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF), the European home for Hubble science. The decisions of the judges are final.
  10. The images will be judged on their relevance to the category and on the basis of their originality and aesthetic as well as technical qualities.

The Onion Article

The Onion has released an article that demonstrates the spirit of our competition:,2484/


The propose Jury is constituted by

  • Colleen Sharkey (ESA/Hubble PIO, chair)
  • Bob Fosbury (Head of ST-ECF/astronomer/photographer)
  • Martin Kornmesser (ESA/Hubble graphic/video expert)
  • Lars Lindberg Christensen (ESO, Head of ESO education and Public Outreach Department, image specialist)

Image selection process

Pre-selection: Each member of the Jury will evaluate each image, and give an overall marks taking into account all the selection criteria defined in the rules. The marks are:

  • A: excellent image, to be considered
  • B: acceptable image, could possibly be considered
  • C: inferior image, has some major issues in at least one of the selection criteria.

These marks will be combined, and a short list of potential winners will be made. Full resolution images will be requested for the images that make it into this short list.

Final selection: the members of the jury will evaluate the short-listed images, and give marks according to each evaluation criteria. These marks will be combined, and the images will be ranked accordingly. The jury will then meet to discuss the final ranking.

The pre-selection and final selection processes are internal and confidential. Only the final ranking will be made public.


Olivier Hainaut
ESA/Hubble, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-89-3200-6752

Privacy policy Accelerated by CDN77