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Worlds most powerful space telescope will let researchers look back in time. This Canadian astronomer will be among its first users – Toronto Star

Posted: December 10, 2021 at 7:14 pm

As she woke on a clear, cold March morning in Montreal, Lisa Dang felt the weight of the pandemic bearing down on her.

It had been a long, hard year since the first lockdowns began, there was no end in sight, and she was deeply troubled by the news a few days earlier of six Asian women being shot to death in Atlanta, a symptom of rising anti-Asian sentiment during the pandemic.

Dang, a 28-year-old PhD candidate at McGill University, is an astronomer. She studies exoplanets planets that orbit other stars. For the past year, she had been working at home, locked down, like all her colleagues, because of the pandemic.

On this day, with all that weighing on her mind, she had to get out. She grabbed her coat, said goodbye to her boyfriend and left her downtown apartment to take a walk and clear her head.

An hour later, her phone began to buzz. Her inbox was flooded with emails. And one of the messages she read there would change her life forever.

Across the world that day, at about the same time, thousands of other astronomers were wading through the same torrent of emails.

But only Dang and a select few colleagues would be among the first to scan the universe with the latest, greatest observational tool the world has ever seen.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is set to launch in late December. The long-delayed, $10-billion multinational project promises to open the universe to scientists as it never has been before.

Itll settle in orbit around the sun 1.5 million kilometres away from Earth, four times further from the planet than the Moon.

The successor to the famed Hubble telescope, the Webb telescope will be 100 times more powerful, thanks primarily to a mirror thats 6.25 times larger in area. Its designed to observe in infrared, which will not only better equip it to see objects in the furthest reaches of the universe but will also allow it to pierce through veils of cosmic dust that often obscure visible light.

Across the globe, astronomers are salivating at the prospect of peering back through time to the near-dawn of the universe, of scrutinizing planets around other stars that just might possess the same building blocks of life as ours, of gazing into the hearts of galaxies hundreds of light-years away to see how stars are born.

In an alleyway in Montreal, a block from her apartment, Dang, disbelieving, read the email over and over again.

I think I was more stunned than happy at that moment, she says.

Immediately, I started FaceTiming my boyfriend. And the first thing that came out when he picked up was just tears, so he was unsure whether or not I was happy, or if it was some kind of mental breakdown.

Of the nearly 1,200 proposals received from 44 countries around the world, only 286 had been selected for time on the JWST, and only 10 of those with Canadians as principal investigators.

Dangs proposal was to study suspected lava planet K2-141b, closely orbiting a star some 200 light-years away. The planets proximity to its star means it is likely to have a molten rock surface and a rock vapour atmosphere the kind of place where it might rain liquid rock and snow rock particles. It was the first proposal shed ever had accepted as a principal investigator.

Even just getting time to use the Hubble Space Telescope is a huge deal for any astronomer, she says. For me, personally, this is a big deal, because for the first time, I felt like an astronomer ... I cant believe that my first proposal is a James Webb Space Telescope proposal.

For a 28-year-old PhD candidate, it was the rough astronomical equivalent of an NHL rookie having a 50-goal season.

Across the country from Dang, in Victoria, B.C., Erik Rosolowsky was waiting at a B&B for his family to get ready to go for a walk along the coast.

Rosolowsky, an associate professor of physics at the University of Alberta, had driven there from Edmonton with his family for March break.

I shouldnt have been checking my email because I was on vacation, he said. But I did ... and I was just flabbergasted.

Rosolowsky had, four months prior, submitted a proposal to use the Webb telescope to photograph the formation of stars in the spiral arms of a distant galaxy. Hed thought at the time his proposal had little chance of being chosen.

He was wrong.

He reread the email, sure that it was a mistake. As a scientist who had been on review panels, receiving proposals like his, he knew how fierce the competition was to even get time on existent telescopes, let alone be among the first to use the JWST.

With his son tarrying inside the B&B, Rosolowsky stepped outside to try and absorb just what was happening to him. He pondered how wildly different his life had become over the span of a few short moments.

This is the kind of thing that changes what youre going to be doing for the next several years, he says now. Were going to have this great opportunity to be the first people to use the Webb. This is where the great discoveries in the next few years in astrophysics are going to come from.

Then he went inside and told his wife. She was happy for him, he says. And then scolded him for checking his email on vacation.

But Dang and Rosolowsky and researchers like them arent celebrating just yet.

Theyre still holding their collective breaths because the telescope on which they have pinned their hopes has not left the ground.

It sits right now at a European Space Agency spaceport in French Guiana having travelled there from California via the Panama Canal awaiting a scheduled launch date of Dec. 22.

When deployed, the JWST will be the largest, most powerful space telescope ever built.

With its extended reach, it will let astronomers probe back in time to an era only a few hundred million years after the Big Bang itself just after what astronomers call the Dark Age when the first stars began to appear, a time of which we know relatively little.

In those distant reaches, light has been travelling toward us for more than 13 billion years. What astronomers see is a snapshot of what the universe looked like when that light started its journey. The more distant objects we can observe, the further back in time we can see.

The JWSTs primary mirror which is primarily responsible for that extended reach is 6.5 metres in diameter, and made up of 18 hexagonal pieces, each made of beryllium thinly coated with gold, and each individually adjustable. That puts the honeycomb-shaped surface area of the mirror at 25 square metres, about six times that of the Hubble telescope.

That bigger mirror means much higher resolution images of the universe, but what also sets JWST apart from the Hubble, is that its designed to see in infrared, that longer-wavelength portion of the light spectrum thats invisible to the human eye.

This has a few advantages. One is that infrared can pierce through the haze of cosmic dust better than visible light, enabling astronomers to gain clearer images of the bowels of the universe. Another is that they are able to study objects that may be too dim to study in visible light a lava planet for example.

A third advantage has to do with the fabric of space itself.

When astronomers are looking at the furthest reaches of the universe, they are looking at light which has been travelling towards them for millions or billions of years. While that light has been travelling, the universe itself has been expanding. And one of the consequences of that expansion is that the very space through which the light has been travelling has been stretched also.

When that happens, wavelengths become longer think of a Slinky being stretched and light becomes red-shifted what started out as visible light moves toward the red end of the spectrum. And that makes an infrared telescope the ideal instrument to probe the extremes of the universe.

By studying the amount that a particular object has red-shifted, astronomers can gain an idea of its distance relative to us. And by gauging its distance, they can tell how far back in time they are looking.

But to properly observe such faint sources, the JWST has to be isolated from other sources, namely the heat from the sun and Earth, which shows up in infrared. Hence its position in orbit around the sun 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

The telescope will orbit whats called a Lagrange point, an area of space where the gravitational pull of the Earth and sun balance the orbit of the telescope, keeping it in a relatively stable position with respect to the Earth.

When it arrives there, the JWST will spend three months cooling to the ambient temperature of space.

But even that distance and time is not enough.

The Webb has a huge sunshield about the size of a tennis court made of five layers of a lightweight, heat- and cold-resistant material called Kapton, which has a reflective metallic coating. The sunshield acts as a parasol, always oriented between the sun and Earth and the telescope.

Engineers estimate that while temperatures on the sun side of the shield could rise as high as 85 C, the telescope, in the shade, would still remain at -233 C.

But the size of the sunshield and the telescope comes at a price: its too large to fit into any rockets we have, and it has to be folded like a giant metallic origami for its launch from Earth.

James Webb Space Telescope Stats

5 to 10 years

Mission duration

Dec. 22, 2021 07:20 EST

Proposed launch date

Ariane 5 rocket

Launch vehicle

Kourou, French Guiana

Launch site

Total payload mass:

Approx 6200 kg, including observatory, on-orbit consumables and launch vehicle adapter.


1.5 million km from Earth orbiting the L2 Point

Wavelength coverage:

Near- and mid-infrared light

-233.2 C

Operating temperature

25 m

Mirror collecting area


Number of primary mirror segments

Primary mirror mass:

20.1 kg for a single beryllium mirror, 39.48 kg for one entire primary mirror segment assembly (PMSA).

Primary mirror material:

beryllium coated with gold

705 kg

Mass of primary mirror

25 m

Clear aperture of primary Mirror

21.2 m 14.6 m

Sunshield dimensions

And that means, immediately after launch, it has to go through an elaborate two-week unfolding and assembly process, one that will have scientists and engineers chewing at their fingernails as it unfurls. And the stakes are, well, astronomical, since, unlike the Hubble, the JWST will be too distant for repairs once its launched.

Its going to be what I call the 14 days of terror, says Ren Doyon, whos the scientific director of the JWST in Canada. Doyon, a professor at the Universit de Montral, will be in French Guiana for the launch. Hes been working toward that moment for the past 20 years.

This is arguably the most complex machine that humanity has ever built. And were going to send it 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

Canada has contributed two instruments to the JWST: a Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and the Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS).

The FGS targets a series of stars as a reference points and, measuring their positions 16 times per second, uses them to keep the telescope pointed at its target. Its so accurate, says Doyon, that it can detect the telescope being off target by the equivalent of the width of a human hair at a distance of a kilometre.

The NIRISS, which observes infrared wavelengths, also includes a spectrograph, which allows astronomers to look at the atmospheres of planets, to determine whether there are traces of gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide or methane which might indicate the possibility that life might exist on those planets.

Both of those instruments, a labour of years for Doyon and the Canadian Space Agency, fit into a compact cuboid which belies its importance.

Its the greatest team effort ever ... to build this incredible machine, says Doyon. Its not much bigger than a washing machine, but what a heck of a washing machine.

For now, that washing machine, and its associated telescope are at rest at a spaceport just north of the equator in South America.

If it launches on schedule, after its one-month journey, after its deployment and calibration, it will be about six months before the first JWST research images arrive on Earth.

And that is what researchers are holding their breath for.

The celebration will be actually seeing the science come through, says Rosolowsky.

Were nerds, right? So when those first images end up getting delivered and we see the first view of these galaxies using Webb thats the treat.

Nobody has seen this before. And having that moment where you have an answer that you get to share with the world ... thats really exciting.


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Worlds most powerful space telescope will let researchers look back in time. This Canadian astronomer will be among its first users - Toronto Star

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Tam Cowan: It felt like medics used the Hubble telescope to do my colonoscopy – Daily Record

Posted: at 7:14 pm

Scientists in the US have created the worlds smallest camera - the same size as a single grain of salt!

Oh, how I wish that piece of equipment had been available on Tuesday when I went for a colonoscopy.

Might be wrong, dear reader, but Im sure they examined my bahookie with the Hubble telescope. Two days later and Im STILL walking about like Groucho Marx

Ive very grateful, though, especially at the time of a global pandemic. Listen, at a charity event I hosted last week, the top prize in the raffle was a doctors appointment.

I had a wee scare with my Simon Cowells two years ago the poo test at the time of my 50th birthday revealed traces of blood and I was whisked into hospital where they removed four polyps (theres a word Ill never forget).

This week, the very talented Dr Simon Dover - oh, how I wish his parents had called him Ben - zapped one tiny polyp and gave me a clean bill of health (well, notwithstanding my varicose veins and morbid obesity).

And you know what? I make absolutely no apology for putting you off your breakfast by writing about the inner workings of my posterior as I simply want to remind every single Daily Record reader: GET YOURSELF CHECKED!

A free bowel screening test is available to everyone in Scotland from the age of 50 and, as I learned from my little episode in 2019, it could save your life.

So, at the risk of repeating myself: GET YOURSELF CHECKED!

To be honest, the colonoscopy was easy-peasy. As one of my pals joked, you only have to worry if the doc says Look - no hands!

Another wisecracker suggested I should lighten the mood by secreting plastic toys and Dinky cars up my bum.

I also loved the patter from a couple of (ahem) well-wishers on my Instagram page.

All the best, said Steve Inness, just put it behind you and, on the hole, you should be fine.

And I laughed out loud when a fella called Blair Allan dubbed me The Sultan of Broon-Eye.

Sure, even under anaesthetic, the procedure was a wee bit sore - reminiscent of the time I caught my willy in my zip (after that eye-watering experience, ladies, I went back to wearing shoes with laces).

But if laughter really is the best medicine, I knew Id be fine when I spotted the sign above the door that read Endoscopy Procedure Area - No Unauthorised Access

I hope so!!!

Tell you what, though, I wasnt laughing the day before my colonoscopy when I had to clear out my system with TWO LITRES of laxative.

Laugh? I was terrified to cough!

My panto pal Johnny Mac - brilliant as Buttons alongside Elaine C Smith in the Kings Theatre, Glasgow, production of Cinderella - reckons that opening night is the best laxative in the world.

Aye right. Hes clearly never tried the stuff they give you before a colonoscopy.

Its called MoviPrep (orange flavour, allegedly) and, boy-oh-boy, it could put Slimfast out of business.

My advice? Make sure youre never more than TWO FEET from a toilet pan.

Anyway, wont go into too much detail (Youre too late! - Ed) but, if I can use a Christmas turkey analogy, youre good to go when the juices run clear

After Dr Dover had worked his magic, I was picked up at the hospital by my wife - having gone 24 hours without food and still woozy from the anaesthetic, I was unsteadier on my feet than Celtic striker Kyogo - and, absolutely STARVING, we drove straight to one of my favourite restaurants (Little Soho in Glasgow) for a double cheeseburger & chips.

I actually fancied a curry but, after two litres of MoviPrep, itll be at least another fortnight before I go anywhere near a vindaloo

PS. One more time, ladies and gentlemen GET YOURSELF CHECKED!

Good news for all us Coronation Street fans - the legendary Roy Cropper is making his comeback on the cobbles at Christmas.

After signing everything over to his niece Nina, regular viewers feared the cafe owner was away to South America for good

Nah, no chance. Hed never be able to stand the heat in that anorak

Enjoyed a terrific night at the Whitehall Theatre in Dundee last Friday hosting An Evening with Harry Redknapp.

The football legend and former King of the Jungle on Im A Celeb was in top form - the audience absolutely loved him - and Ill share just a couple of his great stories.

After signing Paul Merson - a player with serious drugs, drink and gambling issues - he promised Harry hed get in shape and got permission to spend two weeks at Tony Adams rehabilitation clinic in Hertfordshire.

A fortnight later, Merson returned to the club - with a suntan!

Hed gone to Barbados for a fortnight

Never one to shy away from controversy, I also asked Harry about his pet dog Rosie - as you may recall, he famously opened a Monaco bank account in her name which led police to his secret bungs.

Shes no longer with us, said Harry.

What happened to her? I asked.

And to howls from the audience, he smiled and said: I shot her - she knew too much

Karl Marx is an historically famous figure, but nobody ever mentions his sister, Onya, who invented the starter pistol.

Single malt whisky is set to triple in price next year due to the worst supply chain crisis in the industrys history.

So let me get this straight - youll pay treble, but still only see double?

Seems unfair, eh?

PS. Staying with food & drink, heres a fascinating query I received last week: is there a chip shop in Scotland that sells SQUARE sausage suppers???

We all love a sausage supper in this country - nearly as much as we love our famous square-sliced.

So how come nobody (as far as Im aware) has combined the two?

I reckon theres DEFINITELY a gap in the market.

After forking out a small fortune on flights and accommodation, I felt really sorry for the Rangers fans who were told - at extremely short notice - they cant attend tonights Europa League tie in Lyon.

Theyd already been banned from entering the city centre as the game clashes with the Festival of Light which dates back to 1643 and attracts half a million visitors to the Lyon.

As a spokesman for the Rangers Supporters Association apparently said: Thats utterly ridiculous. Why are they still celebrating something that started in the 17th century?

Last weeks Saturday edition of Off The Ball featured The Toilet Roll XI as our Team of the Week.

For example, Tore Andrex Flo, Jurgen Plop and George Best (he was usually three sheets to the wind).

But heres a cracker that arrived too late for the show - referee Willie Collum.

Why? Well, hes the tube in the middle.

Meanwhile, when the legendary loo roll from school - the tracing paper that was Izal - got a mention, Robert in Beauly told us it was just like haggling in an Arnold Clark showroom.

No matter how much you try, you hardly get anything off

PS. Another subject last week was: What has Glasgow done for you?

An email that dropped after the programme said: Well be forever grateful to this wonderful city.

And it was signed (aye right!) by all the monks at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.

PPS. On which note - and keeping it closer to your Lanarkshire correspondents neck of the woods - please tell me theres at least ONE pub in Airdrie at this time of year that sells MULLED Buckfast tonic wine?

Finally got my Christmas tree up AND the washing sorted!

Raider of the Lost Bark.

Any reader know someone called Leon who might want these? I ordered Noel but they sent me the wrong one.

Celtic legends Chris Sutton and John Hartson were thrilled to meet Oscar-winning Gandhi star Ben Kingsley.

First it was elf on the shelf, now its

Word of the week is testiculate: to wave ones arms around while talking bollocks.

Dear Santa, all I want is a fat bank account and a skinny body. Please dont mix it up again like last year.

In this cold weather, spare a thought for all the pigs who heard they were getting blankets for Christmas.

I was on a flight last week and the lunch choice was either chicken or German sausage. Unfortunately I was seated in the back row. I was hoping for the breast, but prepared for the wurst.

Due to the recent cold snap, schools are advising mothers to wear TWO pairs of pyjamas while dropping the kids off in the morning.

My sex life is like a Ferrari. I dont have a Ferrari.

The four stages of a mans life: 1/ you believe in Santa; 2/ you dont believe in Santa; 3/ you are Santa; 4/ you look like Santa.

A huge blaze totally destroyed the doctors surgery last night. Unfortunately, the fire brigade are only doing telephone appointments right now

I nearly got knocked off my bike by a council salt lorry last night. You f****** idiot! I shouted through gritted teeth.

Really wish I hadnt taken my son to see Father Christmas yesterday - hed clearly been drinking and he stank of cigarettes. Goodness knows what Santa thought of him.

Warning: if you get sent a link to listen to the new Ed Sheeran and Elton John Christmas song, dont open it! Its a link to the new Ed Sheeran and Elton John Christmas song...

A 99-year-old woman has been revealed as Britains oldest (guess what?) learner driver!

Sure enough, in every report I read there was NO mention of where exactly shes from.

And so, for super safety, Id advise every single motorist in the UK to stay off the roads

You know it makes sense.

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Tam Cowan: It felt like medics used the Hubble telescope to do my colonoscopy - Daily Record

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Hubble telescope restores 3rd instrument in slow return to operations –

Posted: December 7, 2021 at 6:09 am

NASA's most beloved space telescope is nearly back to normal.

Three of the Hubble Space Telescope's four science instruments are now back to work as the team behind the observatory continues to investigate and assess a glitch that sent all four instruments into safe mode on Oct. 25.

Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) has now joined the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) in resuming observations, according to a statement released Monday (Nov. 29). The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) is now the only Hubble instrument that remains in safe mode.

Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images of all time!

The observatory's science instruments went into safe mode after issues arose with a type of message that governs the instruments' internal clocks. The "loss of a specific synchronization message," as the situation is formally known, first occurred on Oct. 23, but resetting the instruments got them back to work quickly.

But not for long. Two days later, "the science instruments again issued error codes indicating multiple losses of synchronization messages" and went into safe mode, according to a NASA statement.

Hubble personnel worked to troubleshoot the issue using a retired instrument that remains aboard the observatory, then began applying fixes to each of Hubbles science instruments in turn. In tandem, the team is also working on software changes that would prevent science instruments from shutting down in a similar situation of multiple losses of synchronization messages.

The Hubble Space Telescope, a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), entered Earth orbit in April 1990 after launching aboard space shuttle Discovery. During the observatory's first two decades, astronauts were able to visit Hubble aboard space shuttles to replace instruments and conduct other upgrades and repairs.

But for the past 10 years, Hubble has been on its own: NASA retired the fleet of space shuttles in 2011, so astronauts can no longer visit the observatory. In that time, the Hubble Space Telescope has weathered its share of glitches, including most recently a computer issue that knocked the observatory out of service for a month this summer.

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Stelliferous: Geminid meteor shower, and the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Posted: at 6:09 am

Howard Hochhalter| The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

Did you everthink about the factthat astronomy is a sciencethatdeals with what was rather than what is?

Seriously.Lets sayan astronomer trains a telescope tonight atthe Andromeda Galaxy, the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way. The Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5millionlight-years away,andalight-year is how far light travels in one year (5.87 trillion miles), sothe lightfromthe Andromeda Galaxy that our astronomer seestonightleft that galaxy 2.5 million years ago, about the time early hominids started using stone tools.

Even an astronomical event that happens in the present, such as a meteor shower, is a trip to the past.

Take theGeminidmeteor shower, which reaches its peak the nights of Dec. 13 and 14.

Most meteor showers occur when theEarth plows through debris left by a comet. When those cometary bits and pieces, usually the size of a grain of rice, hit the atmosphere,they burnup and create what some people call falling or shooting stars. The parent of OctobersOrionid meteor shower, for example, is the famous comet Halley.

The parent of the Geminids, however, is an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon. As it approaches the sunin its 1.7-year orbit aroundit, chunks of the asteroid break off to become the meteors of the Geminids as they rip through Earths atmosphere at 79,000 mph.

Producing up to 150 meteors per hour, including the occasional fireball, the Geminids were first recorded in 1833so meteors you see during this monthsshower might be from 3200 Phaethons first appearance in our part of the solar system, 188 years ago, or they might be from the asteroids most recent visit, in 2020. In any case, youre looking into the past.

Meteor showers are named for the constellation from which they seem to radiate (its called the radiant), and, for the Geminids, thats Gemini, which rises a little after 9 p.m. Nov. 13.

A waxing gibbous moon, 75% illuminated, will wash out meteors for much of the night, but it will set at2:25a.m. Dec. 14, while Gemini is still high in the sky, which means youll have good viewing until civil twilight at 6:47 a.m.

Our final iteminvolvesa tripwayback into the pastalmost to the beginning of time.

On Dec.18, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope, a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency,will blast offaboard an Ariane 5 rocketfrom the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on a mission that will look more than 13 billion years into the past and allow us to see light created just after the big bang.

For anyone interested in astronomy, this is a very exciting mission, one that is expected to surpass even theaccomplishmentsof the Hubble Space Telescope, which are many.

For more than 30 years, weve marveled at the mesmerizingly beautiful imagesHubblehas sent back to Earthand at the advances in our understanding of the universe the telescope has provided.Hubblehas made more than 1.9 millionobservations, and its data havebeen the source of more than 18,000 scientific papers, which, themselves have been cited inalmost 1 million otherpapers.

The worlds most brilliant astronomers do miracles with this observatory, said David Leckrone, former Hubble senior project scientist. And it just keeps going on and on and on, and my jaw keeps dropping lower and lower with each new discovery.

And, according to NASA scientist Michelle Thaller, Theres not a single astronomer in the world whose life hasnt been touched by Hubble.

So, whysuch high expectations forthe Webb Space Telescope?

Lets compare thetwo telescopes.

Size: When it comes to reflecting telescopes, the bigger the mirror, themore lightit gathers(in other words, the more it cansee).Hubblesmirror is 7 feet, 10 inches. Webbs mirror is 21 feet, 4 inches.

What Webb and Hubble see: While both telescopes operate in the visible spectrum (that is, they can photograph objectsvisible to humans),Webb will be able to see farther into the infraredportionof the spectrumthan Hubble does. This is important because light from the most distant galaxies (those formed soon after the big bang) reaches Earth as infrared light, and the more infrared light a telescope can detect, the more distant galaxies it will see.

Location: We send telescopes to space so they dont have to deal with manmade light pollution and the blurring effects of Earths atmosphere.Hubble orbits the Earth, atanaltitude of 340 miles. Webb willnot orbit the Earth; rather it will be at a fixed location called the second Lagrange point, or L2, 1 million miles from Earth.

ALagrange pointthere are five of themis aplacein space where the gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as the Earth and sun, cancel each other out, and an object, such as a telescope, can be parked there to make observations. Picture the Earth in its orbit around the sun; now, draw a straight line from the center of the sun through the center of the Earth, extendingto a point1 million miles past Earth. Thatis L2.

So, the Hubble telescope orbits the Earth, passing between the Earth and sun and between the Earth and moon,its observations affected by light from the sun, Earth and moon,buttheWebb telescope will always be on the oppositeside of the Earth from the sun, pointing its giant mirror out into the depths of space.Further, apolymershieldthe size of a tennis court will block all light from the sun, Earth, and moon, insuring a constantly dark sky for the telescope to peer into.

It will take roughly 30 days for Webb to reach its orbit at L2, then, after six months of checkouts and calibrations, its science mission will begin.

We can only wonder what its first images will be.

Astronomy by the Bay:TheBishopwill provide telescopesso you can observethe waxing gibbous moon andthe planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter, which will be lined up like a string of pearls along the ecliptic in the western sky.And, yes, were still lookinginto the past:Venus, the closest of our three planets,is almost 60 million miles from Earth right now; thats more than five light minutes away, so the light youll see when you look at Venus left the planet five minutes before you see it. The event is freebut registration is required.(Dec. 14, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., The Bay Park, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota)

How to Use Your Telescope: Need some help figuring out how to use your telescope? Meet us out at Robinson Preserve and we will help you figure it all out! Dont forget to bring your telescope with you! The session is free but group size is limited and registration is required. (Dec. 18, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Robinson Preserve, 10299 9th Ave. NW, Bradenton)

Stelliferous, featuring the Star of Kings:This star has been a popular topic at planetarium shows since the 1940s,aspeople explore astronomical explanations for the star described in the nativity story. Was it a comet, a supernova or something else entirely? JoinmeinThe Planetarium,where welltake a journeyback in timeto what was really happening in the skies some 2,000 years ago. Cost is $8for members of theDiscoverySociety, $10for all others. (Dec. 22,7 p.m., The Bishop, 201 10th St. West, Bradenton;Dec. 23: Star of Kings will replace our regularly scheduled liveStar TalkinThe Planetarium. 12:15 p.m. Included in the price ofMuseumadmission.)

For further program details and registration, visit

Howard Hochhalter isdirectorofThe PlanetariumatThe Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. Each month, he hostsStelliferous, a live discussion at the Museum of whats happening in our night skies and in the world of astronomy. VisitThe Bishoponline atBishopScience.orgto register or to learn about other events and activities at the Museum.

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Stelliferous: Geminid meteor shower, and the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope - Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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It happened today – this day in history – December 5 – Yellow Advertiser

Posted: at 6:09 am

771: Charlemagne becomes the sole King of the Franks after the death of his brother Carloman.

1456: An earthquake strikes Naples, killing 35,000.

1492: Christopher Columbus discovers Hispaniola (Haiti).

1496: Jews are expelled from Portugal by order of King Manuel I.

1717: English pirate Blackbeard ransacks the merchant sloop Margaret and keeps her captain, Henry Bostock prisoner for eight hours. Bostock later provides the first description of Blackbeards appearance.

1791: Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart dies aged 35.

1792: George Washington is re-elected as president of the USA.

1804: Thomas Jefferson is re-elected as president of the USA.

1830: Hector Berliozs Symphonique Fantastique premieres in Paris. On the same day, poet Christina Rossetti is born in London.

1832: Andrew Jackson is re-elected as president of the USA.

1837: Hector Berliozs Requiem premieres.

1848: President James K. Polk triggers the Gold Rush of 1849 by confirming the discovery of gold in California.

1870: French author Alexandre Dumas dies aged 68.

1872: The Mary Celeste is discovered mysteriously abandoned by her crew in the Atlantic Ocean.

1890: The entire version of Hector Berliozs epic opera Les Troyens premieres in Karlsruhe, 21 years after the composers death.

1901: Walt Disney is born in Chicago.

1914: The Italian parliament proclaims the countrys neutrality.

1917: Austro-German Forces launch an offensive against the Italians on the western end of their line, around Asiago.

1925: Hans Luther is forced to resign as Chancellor and head of the German Weimar government.

1926: French impressionist painter Claude Monet dies from lung cancer aged 86.

1932: Albert Einstein is granted a visa to enter America.

1933: Prohibition ends in the US when the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment.

1936: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan become constituent republics of the Soviet Union.

1941: A Soviet anti-offensive in Moscow drives out the Nazi army.

1945: Flight 19 the Lost Squadron of five torpedo bombers and 14 airmen is lost east of Florida in the Bermuda Triangle.

1947: Joe Louis beats Jersey Joe Walcott Walcott in 15 rounds for the heavyweight boxing title.

1949: Ezzard Charles beats Jersey Joe Walcott Walcott for the heavyweight boxing title

1950: Chinese forces fighting for their Korean comrades enter the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and push UN troops back. On the same day, Ezzard Charles KOs Nick Barone in Round 11 for the heavyweight boxing title.

1955: The Montgomery Improvement Association formed by Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Edgar Nixon to support the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama.

1957: New York becomes the first US city to legislate against racial or religious discrimination in housing market. On the same day, President Sukarno of Indonesia expels all Dutch people.

1958: Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) is inaugurated in the UK by the Queen when she speaks to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh. On the same day, the Preston bypass, the UKs first stretch of motorway, opens to traffic for the first time. It is now part of the M6 and M55.

1960: Ghana drops diplomatic relations with Belgium.

1963: Singles chart:

1965: The Beatles play in their home town for the last time when they appeared at The Liverpool Empire.

1974: The final episode of Monty Pythons Flying Circus airs on BBC TV.

1977: President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt breaks all relations with Arab hardliners Syria, Libya, Algeria and South Yemen.

1979: Ireland premier Jack Lynch resigns.

1987: Fat Larry James, drummer, singer and leader of Fat Larrys Band dies of a heart attack aged 38.

1988: A Federal Grand Jury indicts televangelist Jim Bakker for fraud after he paid hush money to cover up an alleged rape.

1989: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher defeats Sir Anthony Meyer in the first challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party. On the same day, the French TGV train reaches a world record speed of 482.4kph.

1991: Administrators are called in to try to salvage the Maxwell business empire, which is at least 1bn in debt.

1993: Astronauts begin to repair the Hubble telescope in space. On the same day, guitarist and songwriter Doug Hopkins of the Gin Blossoms dies of self-inflicted gunshot wounds age 32 a day after sneaking out of rehab in Phoenix, Arizona.

1995: Sri Lankan troops drive Tamil Tiger guerrillas out of their heartland capital of Jaffna. Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) reveal that in the weeks before his death, Robert Maxwell had removed 350m from its pension fund without authority.

2003: Coldplay singer Chris Martin marries actress Gwyneth Paltrow in California.

2005: The Civil Partnership Act comes into effect in the UK.

2006: Lyrics handwritten by Sir Paul McCartney to an early version of Maxwells Silver Hammer sold for $192,000 (97,000) at an auction in New York. On the same day, Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrows the government in Fiji. Also, Audrey Hepburns Givenchy little black dress from the film Breakfast at Tiffanys is auctioned for charity for a record 467,200 at Christies in London.

2007: A gunman opens fire with a semi-automatic rifle at an Omaha, Nebraska mall, killing eight people before taking his own life.

2008: Human remains previously found in 1991 are finally identified by Russian and American scientists as those of Tsar Nicholas II. On the same day, O J Simpson is sentenced to 33 years in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery.

2010: Album chart:

2012: Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck dies aged 91.

2013: Nelson Mandela dies aged 95.

2016: Malta becomes the first country in Europe to outlaw conversion therapy.

2017: Russia is banned from the next Winter Olympics in South Korea over state-sponsored doping.

2018: A letter by Albert Einstein from 1954 on the concept of religion sells for $2.9 million at Christies in New York.

2019: National strike in France as more than 800,000 people in 100 cities protest against proposed pension reform.

BIRTHDAYS: Jeroen Krabb, actor, 77; Jos (Josep Maria) Carreras, tenor, 75; Kim Simmonds, guitarist (Savoy Brown), 74; Morgan Brittany (Suzanne Cupito) actress, 70; Eddie the Eagle Edwards, ski jumper, 58; Margaret Cho, comedian, 53; Sajid Javid, politician, 52; Ronnie OSullivan, snooker champion, 46; Paula Patton, actress, 46; Frankie Muniz, actor, 36; Anthony Martial, footballer, 26.

It happened today - this day in history - December 5 - Yellow Advertiser

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Hubble telescope sees a space ‘snowman’ thousands of light-years away –

Posted: November 25, 2021 at 12:38 pm

A new release from the Hubble telescope's vast archive shares an incredible space "snowman" filled with glowing gas.

The image shows the Snowman Nebula, which is a cloud of gas and dust in deep space. The Hubble Space Telescope's sharp eyes picked up the object from a distance of 6,000 light-years away, and rendered the image in a time exposure since the glow of the gas is very faint.

"Emission nebulas are diffuse clouds of gas that have become so charged by the energy of nearby massive stars that they glow with their own light," NASA said in a statement about the new image.

Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images of all time!

"The radiation from these massive stars strips electrons from the nebula's hydrogen atoms in a process called ionization," the statement continues. "As the energized electrons revert from their higher-energy state to a lower-energy state, they emit energy in the form of light, causing the nebula's gas to glow."

The famed telescope picked up this new image during a survey of massive- and intermediate-size "protostars," or newly forming stars. Hubble used its Wide Field Camera 3 instrument "to look for hydrogen ionized by ultraviolet light from the protostars, jets from the stars, and other features," NASA officials wrote.

Hubble isn't quite working at its best. In late October, a synchronization error with its internal communications forced all five of its science instruments offline.

The team recovered the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on Nov. 7, and the same Wide Field Camera 3 responsible for this image on Nov. 21. WFC3 is the most heavily used of Hubble's instruments.

The observatory's other three instruments remain in a protective "safe mode" as ground engineers continue to carefully troubleshoot issues on the 31-year-old observatory. The Hubble team will next address an instrument called the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, which can observe far-ultraviolet light.

Although astronauts on five different missions visited Hubble to repair and upgrade the observatory, no additional visits are planned; servicing missions relied on NASA's space shuttle program, which ended in 2011.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Two new galaxies discovered 29 billion light-years away out of 20% dust-hidden ones – Republic World

Posted: at 12:38 pm

Astronomers from the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen have discovered two galaxies that were previously hidden behinddense space dust. Dubbed REBELS-12-2 and REBELS-29-2, the galaxies are located 29 billion light-years away and their existence came to light as the ALMA radio telescopes in Chile's Atacama Desert pierced through the thick cosmic dust. Reportedly, it was because of this shroud of dust that both the galaxies escaped the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The team of astronomers that spotted the two galaxies suggest that nearly 20% of galaxies in our universe are still hidden due to the heavy presence of dust in space. According to Pascal Oesch, associate professor of the Niels Bohr Institute, the astronomers already knew about the existence of these two galaxies through the Hubble Telescope. Detailing about the discovery, Oesch said as per Daily Mail.

We noticed that two of them had a neighbour that we didn't expect to be there at all. As both of these neighboring galaxies are surrounded by dust, some of their light is blocked, making them invisible to Hubble.

Thanks to the ALMA telescope, it was able to locate the two galaxies when Hubble failed to do so. The team says that the light from the two galaxies reached earth after travelling for nearly 13 billion years, and this light was captured by ALMA. The telescope, which is capable of trapping radio waves emerging from the deepest areas of the universe, creates high-resolution images by combining the light received by 66 of its antennas.

Oesch further says that one in every five galaxies in the universe are obscured from our view and the experts are counting on the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled for launch next month, to unveil these hidden galaxies. Daily Mail reported him further saying, The next step is to identify the galaxies we overlooked, because there are far more than we thought. Thats where the James Webb Telescope will be a huge step forward. He added that the Webb Telescope will be able to uncover the hidden galaxies without much effort as it is much more sensitive in detecting longer wavelengths than any other telescope ever made.

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The Hubble Telescope Checks In With the Most Distant Planets – The New York Times

Posted: November 23, 2021 at 4:49 pm

Typically these storms appear in the mid-latitudes and drift to the planets equator, where they weaken and then disintegrate. In 2018, Hubble spotted a massive dark spot drifting southward toward the equatorial killing zone, in Neptunes northern hemisphere.

Two years later, however, to the astonishment of astronomers and computer simulations, the storm had reversed course and was heading back north. Moreover, the reversal had coincided with the appearance of a new, slightly smaller storm called Dark Spot Jr. to the south perhaps a piece of the larger vortex that had split off, taking away energy and momentum as in some cosmic billiards game.

It was really exciting to see this one act like its supposed to act and then all of a sudden it just stops and swings back, said Michael Wong, a research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, in a news release from NASA last year. That was surprising.

In the most recent Neptune portrait, the large dark spot is still there in the north. But Junior has vanished, and the entire north pole region is dark. The Neptune weather forecasters still dont know why.

Savor these cosmic postcards while you can. The Hubble Space Telescope has been up there for more than 30 years, long past its planned service life, and it has been having more frequent troubles lately. Three times this year, the telescope endured extended shutdowns because of software problems.

But there is potentially good news coming with the scheduled launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in December. The Webb telescope is almost three times bigger than Hubble. It is designed to see infrared or heat radiation rather than visible wavelengths, and thus can see through the clouds and hazes of these planets and map the heat below, shedding light, so to speak, on how these planets work. For a while anyway, if all goes well and things have not always gone well astronomers could have two complementary ways of understanding what is going on out there.

And thats the weather report from the outer planets. Its windy out there, and dont forget to wear your strongest sunblock on Uranus.

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The Hubble Telescope Checks In With the Most Distant Planets - The New York Times

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How long will the Hubble Space Telescope work? – The Times Hub

Posted: at 4:49 pm

Hubble Telescope, photographed from the Shuttle Discovery/NASA/Flickr Johnson

The Hubble Space Observatory has repeatedly justified its investment. For more than 30 years, the telescope has served science by helping humanity explore space. But the device is getting old and starts to work worse and worse.

Immediately after launch, the Hubble was found to be malfunctioning. But they managed to fix them thanks to the shuttle flights, thanks to which it was later even possible to modernize the space observatory. Shuttles no longer fly, so operators on Earth are doing the repairs. Fortunately, so far there have not been critical accidents that people on Earth could not cope with. Soon Hubble's successor, the next-generation James Webb telescope, will go into space, so the question arises: how much longer Hubble will operate.

Photos of the Hubble telescope taken during the STS-103 mission/Photo NASA Flickr Johnson

James Webb has not yet been launched and it will take more than a month before it is fully operational But even after that, Hubble will not be abandoned experts are likely planning to completely exhaust the giant resource of the legendary spacecraft.

NASA reports that the scientific mission of the space observatory has been extended until June 30, 2026. An additional $ 215 million is planned for this. The continuation of the mission takes place against the backdrop of problems with the Hubble equipment. But given the continued funding, it can be concluded that the problems are not critical and must be quickly resolved in order for the telescope to continue working.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space on April 24, 1990 thanks to the Discovery shuttle.

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Hubble imaged a ‘superbubble’ floating in space – Popular Science

Posted: November 7, 2021 at 12:15 pm

The Hubble Telescope, which launched more than 30 years ago in 1990, just imaged a curious massive bubble in a nebula 170,000 light years away from Earth. The bubble sits in nebula N44, a seriously elaborate 1,000 light year wide nebula filled with stars of all ages and size, clouds of hydrogen gas, and at the center, this massive bubble.

The superbubble, as NASA calls it, is 250 light years wide, and scientists are not quite sure exactly why it exists. The dark expanse dotted with stars inside this nebula is a bit of a mystery, although at least one theory for this gaping center exists. One posits that massive stars inside the bubble produce stellar winds that may have blown surrounding gas away, creating the blob. Not everything about this theory quite makes sense, though, because the wind velocities measured within the bubble dont seem strong enough to do this.

Another, more compelling theory states that the bubble was likely created in multiple chain reaction star forming events, as the stars within it have massive age gaps compared to those on the rim of the bubble. The nebula glows from the cooling of the ionized gas that fills it, dropping from a high energy state to a low energy state. Regardless of its origins, the bubble is as entrancing as ever.

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