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Club Newsletter

Understanding the universe is a quest that fuels many astronomers, both professional and amateur. Telescopes are used to view and gather data to unlock its secrets.  NASA will launch its latest space telescope in hopes of better understanding the universe.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch this month. It was named after James Webb, the director of NASA from February 1961, to October 1968. He oversaw the critical first manned launches from the Mercury thru Gemini programs.

The JWST will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.  The primary mirror will be made of 18 segmented mirrors that will unfold once in orbit. They will have a total diameter of over 200 ft. Each mirror is gold coated, which reflects light the best in the infrared spectrum.

The JWST mission will have four main components: search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe, to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, to understand the formation of stars and planetary systems, and to study planetary systems and the origins of life.

Its final orbit will put it 930,000 miles from Earth, unable to be serviceable.  It will be at a point where the Earth and Moon’s gravity will cancel out, called Lagrange points.   Five of these exist, the JWST will be at Lagrange point 2. With the launch of the JWST, astronomers will begin their quest of understanding the Universe.

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