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12/28/2021 – Ephemeris – The James Webb Telescope is on its way to L2

December 28, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:18 tomorrow morning.

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched Christmas morning and is heading out past the Moon’s orbit. It was launched from the European Space Agency’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America, as part of their contribution to the project. It will orbit a point called Lagrange Point 2, or L2 for short, over four times the Moon’s distance in a direction opposite of the Sun. It will take the telescope 29 days to unfold itself. First order of business was to unfold the solar panels to obtain power, then to deploy its high gain antenna for communications with the Earth. Next to begin to deploy a 5 layer, tennis court sized sun shield. After that, the telescope will be unfolded.

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.

Addendum

The last view of Webb as it separated from the Ariane 5 launch vehicle

The last view of Webb as it separated from the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Credit: NASA.

07/12/11 – Ephemeris – Dim prospects for the James Webb Space Telescope

July 12, 2011 Comments off

Tuesday, July 12th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27.   The moon, 3 days before full, will set at 4:24 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:09.

The US House Appropriation Committee is planning to cancel the Jame Webb Space Telescope.  This follow on to the wildly successful Hubble Space Telescope, is, like its predecessor over budget and behind schedule.  The Webb will gather over 6 times the light as the Hubble, and operate in the infrared where the action is in astronomy now a days.  As it is currently funded the Webb telescope might not be launched by 2018.  They are cutting NASA’s budget by 1.6 billion dollars and want to mandate instead the development of a heavy lift rocket, for which there is no immediate use.  As it is the commercial SpaceX company supposedly can upgrade their current Falcon 9 rocket to a Falcon Heavy quicker and cheaper than NASA can produce their heavy rocket.

* Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Artist's view of the James Webb Space Tellescope.  Courtesy NASA.

Artist's view of the James Webb Space Tellescope. Courtesy NASA.

Artist's conception of the Falcon Heavy rocket.  Courtesy SpaceX.

Artist's conception of the Falcon Heavy rocket. Courtesy SpaceX.