Bob Mitchell to give update on James Webb Space Telescope Aug. 16

Photo courtesy NASA/Chris Gunn
Engineers pose with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope after it emerged from Chamber A at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Dec. 1, 2017. Bob Mitchell will give an update on the telescope on at 5 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library.

By Joan Mieritz
Special to The PREVIEW
The San Juan Stargazers are looking forward to one of the most exciting talks possible with Bob Mitchell updating us on the James Webb infrared space telescope.
He will speak on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 5 p.m. at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library. He has been working on this successor to the Hubble space telescope for at least a decade. He spoke to our club in 2013 when the launch year was 2018.
The Hubble space telescope greatly increased our knowledge of the universe, but it raised even more questions. The mission of the Webb will be to answer some of the greatest questions we can ask; for example: How did the universe begin? Are we alone in the universe? How common is life? How common is intelligent life? What other lifeforms are there? What unbelievable things are waiting to amaze or shock us? It will answer questions we haven’t even thought of.
Making the Webb telescope is a wonder in and of itself. It will not orbit the earth like the Hubble does. It will orbit the sun, a million miles away from us. If serious mistakes are made, astronauts will not be able to fix it. It has to be perfect.
It is a huge telescope with accessory parts that cannot be launched into space as it is. Every part collapses and must be able to unfold and fit together when it is 1 million miles away. Nothing like this has ever been done before. Designs for each part are new and have never been tested in space. There can be no mistakes. The creativity, courage and confidence these scientists and engineers have is extraordinary.
I encourage everyone, including interested students, to come and be amazed and inspired. There is no charge, but people can contribute to our scholarship fund.
Please note: We will save a few chairs close to the door for latecomers to quietly join us, especially working people. We want to celebrate Mitchell’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 Thursday, 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, www.SanJuanStargazers.com, as well as an email address, sjstargazers@gmail.com, and a club phone number, 335-8285, to help communicate with the public. You do not want to miss this.

This story was posted on August 13, 2018.