San Juan Stargazers to host chance to learn about the James Webb infrared space telescope

Photo courtesy NASA
A full-scale model of the James Webb space telescope at the 2013 South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. The San Juan Stargazers will hear from Bob Mitchel about the telescope on Aug. 16.

By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Stargazers are pleased to have Bob Mitchel as a guest speaker on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 5 p.m. at the Ruby Sisson Library.
He has been working on the James Webb infrared space telescope for at least a decade. He spoke to our club and community members in 2013.
We know what the Hubble space telescope did for our knowledge of the universe. A library could be filled with the amazing photos and information we have learned.
The plan is that the Webb will be even better. And, it will answer many of the most important questions that humans can ask, such as: How did the universe begin? Are we alone in the universe? How common is life? How common is intelligent life? Can we possibly make contact? This telescope will be so powerful that it will be able to see the atmospheres of various exoplanets.
Making the Webb telescope is a wonder in and of itself. It will not orbit the earth like the Hubble does and, if mistakes are made, astronauts cannot go to fix it. It will orbit the sun, a million miles away from us, so the builders cannot repair a mistake.
It will be huge and cannot be launched into space as it is. Every part is folded and collapsed and must be able to unfold and fit together with commands from 1 million miles away. Most of the telescope is totally new in design. Nothing like this has ever been built before. So, designs are new and have never been tested in space and there can be no mistakes.
I encourage everyone, including interested students, to come and be amazed and inspired.
A few notes: We want to make sure that working people will be able to attend. A 5 p.m. time may make that difficult, so we will save a few chairs close to the door for late comers to quietly join us.
We want to celebrate Mitchel’s work and this amazing telescope, so people are invited to join us for a dinner celebration after his presentation. The restaurant location will be announced that night and there will be a wide price range of food available, so everyone should be able to join us. The Stargazers will hold their regular monthly meeting on Aug. 23.
The San Juan Stargazers are part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S. We have a website,, as well as an email address,, and a club phone number, 335-8286, to help communicate with the public. You do not want to miss this.

This story was posted on August 6, 2018.