Astronomy predates the telescope by millennia. Even Stonehenge, built in the unwritten past, is thought to have astronomical significance. The ancient Chinese, Babylonians, and Greeks left records of changes in the heavens as well. But it wasn’t until 1609 that Galileo pointed the first telescope into the night sky. He saw mountains on the moon, and he explored a milky band of light that extended across the heavens. Others followed, and soon, new planets were discovered, along with countless moons that weren’t visible to the naked eye. Even with the best telescopes, however, astronomers were frustrated by distortion created by Earth’s atmosphere, which causes the twinkling you can see while star gazing. In 1970, with NASA missions in full swing, work began on an orbiting telescope. By 1990, the famous Hubble telescope was in place over 300 miles above the Earth’s surface, returning images of star formation and galaxies that Galileo could have only dreamed of.