Nonetheless, that is what the HDF project is about. Of course, what makes it research astronomy rather than lunacy is that the part of the sky we are looking at is a very special "nothing". The "nothing" means that there are few objects in the field brighter than about 20th magnitude, no galaxy clusters, and low Galactic obscuration. The idea is to exploit the low background sky brightness Hubble has by going DEEP in a blank field to look for primordial field galaxies/objects. Moreover, this particular field spends some time in Hubble's Continuous Viewing Zone---for seven days, the earth never occults it. We can just stare and stare and pile up them photons.
Also, even in the CVZ, you have to worry about the South Atlantic Anomoly (SAA). This is a radiation zone that the HST goes through about a dozen times a day. Not harmful, but your signal-to-noise suffers, since the noise part goes up a great deal. This graph illustrates efforts to fit the observations around the SAA. There are, however, some nice 9-10 hour stretches which are SAA-free, and truly continuous viewing. The idea here is that not only are we going to spend a huge number of orbits looking at this field, but at very high efficiency as well. Optimal bang for the buck, I'd say.
The observations themselves took place from Dec. 18th thru Dec. 28th. The first data from the observations were presented at the January 1996 AAS Meeting in San Antonio. the data is now non-proprietary. That means you can get copies of it NOW!
The Hubble Deep Field actually has its own home page, with lots more information about the filters used, previews of the field, and REALLY NEAT PICTURES!!! Click *here* to go to it.
Or, click *here* to go back to Doug's Home Page.