Craft

Build Your Own Scale Model of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope

Craft a cardboard replica of the iconic telescope with this free template shared by NASA’s website dedicated to the Hubble

Stargazers and space fans are generally known for looking up to the skies, but here’s a crafty activity that’ll draw your attention down to Earth for a few hours: A pattern to make a scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hand Held Hubble is a 3D paper model of the iconic space telescope that’s played a huge part in shaping and broadening our understanding of the universe today while creating some incredible space photography.

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The Hand Held Hubble is a 1:48 scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope (credit: Hubblesite).

What is the Hubble telescope?

Now in its fourth decade roaming the skies - and currently orbiting around 340 miles above the Earth’s surface at 17,000 mph - the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was first launched into orbit from the Space Shuttle Discovery back in 1990.

Since then, it’s been capturing all kinds of footage and snapping thousands of incredibly detailed images of stars, planets, and galaxies - many of which are available to see and download for free.

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NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope.

To name a few highlights, Hubble’s findings over the past 30 years have helped astronomers determine the age of the universe (roughly 13.8 billion years old), accurately map dark matter in 3D, and timeline the growth of galaxies.

The bank of images has also allowed us all to witness phenomena like black holes (that we now know can be found at the center of most major galaxies), the lifecycle of stars in detail, and some incredibly stunning scenes from the cosmos.

One of the many famous images to come from Hubble is the out-of-this-world ‘Pillars of Creation’ photograph from 1995. Showing the amazing mass of dust and gas at the center of Eagle Nebula, it’s a picture that’s been printed on posters and inspired artists all over the world.

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'Pillars of Creation', a picture of Eagle Nebula captured by Hubble (credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team).

DIY Hand Held Hubble

While you won’t be able to capture the same images with the Hand Held Hubble, the 1:48 scale model will give you a chance to get a deeper insight into the inner workings of the 31-year-old telescope and its setup.

Available to download on Hubblesite - NASA’s educational website all about the telescope and its findings - the model was created by Danish engineer and paper-model designer Ton Noteboom. A self-proclaimed “space-age kid”, Ton’s always been fascinated by the technology that allowed us to explore space and has created a collection of 35 paper models that he’s shared with the public.

The model is designed to be built using a print-out pattern with detailed step-by-step instructions, complete with hand-drawn illustrations for each stage. It can be made using fairly basic and easy-to-source craft supplies, like white cardstock, glues, a decent pair of scissors, a metal ruler, construction paper, and paints. The 30-piece build should take anything from four to eight hours to complete.

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Overview of the Hubble Space Telescope design.
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Preview of the Hand Held Hubble cut-out pattern for the aft shroud.

For keen paper-modelers after an extra challenge, Ton’s also made and shared an expert template (rated ‘very difficult’) that features around 300 pieces and is said to take around 30 hours to build. You’ll need additional tools for the expert version, including a sharp craft knife and a metal straightedge. But the result is a more detailed model with extras from Hubble's interior and exterior, including objects like the cryocooler.

Ready to get making? Download the Hand Held Hubble template and patterns via this link. Plus deep dive into the Hubblesite website to find all kinds of images and real-time footage for creative inspiration, as well as more other-worldly educational activities.

You may also like:

- Thousands of Images from Space Free to Download
- Bruce Nelson Blackburn and the NASA “Worm” Logo
- Apollo Program: a Universe of Photographs
- Pop-Up Book Creation, a course by Silvia Hijano Coullaut
- Paper Playground: Create a Papercut Picturebook, a course by Karishma Chugani

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