3 Ways To Find The Picture NASA Took On Your Birthday

In February 2022, NASA's Earth Observatory found that the sea ice around Antarctica had declined to its lowest level ever observed. Careful records of such things can be used to help shape humanity's response, and our ultimate survival may depend on this careful scrutiny of the planet's most volatile areas. Having said that, NASA is best known for its research into the wider solar system and universe.

Perhaps the most famous eye into space that humanity has ever employed, of course, is the iconic Hubble Space Telescope. According to NASA, the telescope was launched in April 1990, courtesy of space shuttle Discovery. NASA boasts that Hubble has recorded images from over 13.4 billion light-years away, and taken an incredible 1.5 million of them. It has identified planets from beyond the Sun and revolutionized scientists' understanding of the universe.

It has also, almost as prominently, been used for TikTok trends and birthday photos. The remarkable device takes dazzling, otherworldly, almost unimaginable photographs on a daily basis. There are various avenues to follow to check out an image recorded by NASA or by Hubble specifically on your birthday or the day you were born. Here are three of them.

Method one: Check the Archive and Calendar of the Astronomy Picture of the Day website

Astronomy Picture of the Day is managed by NASA's Jerry Bonnell and Michigan Technological University professor Robert Nerimoff. Established in 1995, the website is a simple affair. It presents a different image on a daily basis. Each one is, of course, space-themed and stunning.

To provide some context to the beautiful visuals, each is followed by a box marked "Explanation," in which astronomers Nerimoff and Bonnell provide a short, scientific yet easy-to-follow description of what's shown in the photograph.

Only 1/365th of the time, of course, will your visit to Astronomy Picture of the Day coincide with your birthday. The rest of the time, you can simply hit the Archive tab at the bottom of the page. The Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive dates back to January 1, 2015, so you can easily scroll to your birthday and click the title of the image to see it in all its glory. For the day you were born (birth day and year), you can instead visit the Calendar tab from the main page. The Astronomy Picture of the Day Calendar goes as far back as June 16 1995 (though only that image and then June 20 onward now display correctly), so just click the month on the main Calendar page and then the specific day on the next page to see your image.

Method two: A simple shortcut to finding your own picture

As discussed, the Astronomy Picture of the Day Calendar and Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive resources allow users to scroll around to find their specific birthdays. It's a little bit of a fiddly process, though. For one thing, the calendar for any given month is not numbered. Instead, each day is represented on it only by a small thumbnail of the day's image. It's great to see tiny previews of them all, but it makes the calendar rather less user-friendly.

There is also another bland grid of years and different-colored months to parse and scroll through before arriving at that point. Fortunately, there's a handy way to skip this navigation, thus making the vital "what's your NASA birthday picture" fun far more instantly gratifying.

All you need is a web browser. Simply open your favorite search engine, enter your birthday (year included if it's either June 16, 1995 or on or after June 20, 1995) followed by "NASA picture," and the first result will be the Astronomy Picture of the Day entry for your birthday. One beautifully beguiling space-themed photograph, no waiting.

Method three: Use NASA's What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday feature

To mark the telescope's 30 years in operation, NASA released the What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday software. Users need only select their birth month from the "Select Month" dropdown and the day of their birthday that month from the "Select Date" dropdown. Click submit, and you'll see an image Hubble captured one year on that day.

Inputting January 4th, for instance, results in the image "On January 4 in 1998: Saturn in Infrared." Like the Astronomy Picture of the Day, the image is accompanied by some explanatory text: "This false-color image of Saturn captures infrared light reflecting off the planet. The image also captures two of Saturn's moons, Dione in the lower left and Tethys in the upper right." A text version is also available.

The difference between What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday and method one is that the former only allows users to input their birthday (day and month), but not their birth year. As these shots have all been captured by Hubble, however, the lack of Earth-based photography's limitations makes them all the more otherworldly.