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NASA embosses space images for the blind

'Touch the Invisible Sky'

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NASA today released Touch the Invisible Sky, a 60-page book using 28 embossed images from its Great Observatories, coupled with large-print and braille text to bring the "majestic images" to the visually-impaired and blind.

The tome's pictures - from the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Spitzer Space Telescope and other ground-based 'scopes - are "embossed with lines, bumps and other textures" which "translate colors, shapes and other intricate details of the cosmic objects".

According to NASA, Touch the Invisible Sky takes readers on "a cosmic journey beginning with images of the sun, and travel out into the galaxy to visit relics of exploding and dying stars, as well as the Whirlpool galaxy and colliding Antennae galaxies".

The book was written by astronomy educator and accessibility specialist Noreen Grice of You Can Do Astronomy LLC and the Museum of Science, Boston, with authors Simon Steel, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and Doris Daou, an astronomer at NASA Headquarters, Washington.

Speaking at the launch at the National Federation of the Blind, Grice said: "About ten million visually impaired people live in the United States. I hope this book will be a unique resource for people who are sighted or blind to better understand the part of the universe that is invisible to all of us."

Daou enthused: "We wanted to show that the beauty and complexity of the universe goes far beyond what we can see with our eyes!"

Steel joined the party with: "The study of the universe is a detective story, a cosmic 'CSI' where clues to the inner workings of the universe are revealed by the amazing technology of modern telescopes. This book invites everyone to join in the quest to unlock the secrets of the cosmos."

Touch the Invisible Sky will be distributed through "NASA libraries, the National Federation of the Blind, Library of Congress repositories, schools for the blind, libraries, museums, science centers and Ozone Publishing". ®

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