The James Webb Telescope, the world’s premier space observatory, is revealing new discoveries in our universe.
The telescope is located in an area of space where the gravity and centripetal forces of the sun and the Earth are just right, allowing objects to remain in a relatively stable position.
Orbiting a million miles from Earth at an invisible point in space known as Earth-Sun Lagrange point 2, the Webb lens offers us a crisp clear view of Stephan’s Quintet.
If you have watched the news or read online, you have had the opportunity to take a closer look at the group of galaxies known as Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies about 290 light years from Earth.
These images and others will help astronomers unlock how our universe evolves and changes and find answers to their “what if” and “why” musings.
In an observatory in France in 1877, Edouard Stephan discovered the galaxies situated in the constellation Pegasus.
This grouping of galaxies gained even more attention when featured in the holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Angelic voices begin shaping the main plot of the movie around two minutes into the story with a picture of the five celestial bodies in the background.
The power of the Webb telescope brings outer space into a more definitive reality. Future scientists will continue to increase their ability to gain perspective and vision of what our universe holds because of the work scientists have done in developing amazing tools, including this telescope.
Through the years, astronomers have lectured and individuals have yearned to know more about the universe. Scientists and explorers continue to work and reveal new objects within our world that will prove valuable and life-changing at the least, and lifesaving at the most.
Projects and tools such as the James Webb Telescope are the result of mankind’s curiosity about the universe and bring new knowledge to our inquiring minds.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson, an astronaut in the 1980s, said Webb is designed for people everywhere to learn about the universe.
In fact, hundreds of astronomers have lined up to book time with that Webb for viewing particular angles of space over what promises to be 20-plus years.
Nelson also notes, “Due to a precise liftoff aboard the Ariane 5 rocket last Christmas Day, enough fuel remains for Webb to stay in orbit around the sun at least twice as long as earlier expected.
“Webb represents the best of NASA, and it maintains our ability to propel forward for science, risk taking and inspiration,” Nelson said. “We don’t want to ever stop exploring the heavens.”
At St. Cyprian’s, we will offer our students the opportunity to study what this telescope provides us of the heavens so we help generate in our future scientists the will and courage to explore.
In the words of astronomer Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
The reality of those words was evident with pictures taken by this new telescope.
About Author | Dr. Sherry Durham is Head of School for St. Cyprian’s Episcopal School. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The column was printed in The Lufkin Daily News on June 22, 2022.