Home > CSA, Ephemeris Program, ESA, NASA > 12/23/2021 – Ephemeris – The James Webb Space Telescope to launch Real Soon Now

12/23/2021 – Ephemeris – The James Webb Space Telescope to launch Real Soon Now

December 23, 2021

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, December 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:18. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 9:23 this evening.

One of the problems in recording a week’s worth of programs at once is: one, not having the freshest news; and two, talking about an imminent space launch that gets canceled a day or two before scheduled launch. As of Sunday night, when I’m recording this, the often delayed James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to be launched at 7:20 (am EST) tomorrow morning* from the European Space Agency’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America. It will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket into an orbit that will take the telescope a million miles away, opposite of the direction of the Sun to a gravitational somewhat stable L2 Lagrange point, which it will lazily orbit.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

* See? Delayed again, this time for bad weather. The launch is rescheduled for not earlier than 7:20 am EST Christmas Day. This is why I hate to talk about spacecraft launches before they happen, except in a general way.


James Webb Space Telescope trajectory to L2

James Webb Space Telescope trajectory to L2 with some milestones of deployment. “ISIM” stands for Integrated Scientific Instruments Module. Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Full scale model of the JWST at Goddard Space Flight Center

Full scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope at Goddard Space Flight Center. Note its scale, with the people who worked on it the foreground.

James WebbSpace Telescope, folded

James Webb Space Telescope, folded and ready to be placed atop the Ariane 5 Rocket. After launch and on its way to L2 begins “29 Days of Terror” as various parts of the telescope deploy, including the five layer, tennis court sized, sun shade. Any failure could doom the 10 billion dollar telescope.

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