Star-gazing with the Webb Telescope

Science Works!

I never had a problem looking up at the Texan night sky and seeing at least a few stars and constellations. I grew accustomed to staring at the Little Dipper and the Big Dipper, two constellations that created some of the best memories I had as a child. On a recent visit to West Texas’ open expanse, every constellation in the sky was clear and visible. It felt like I was in a planetarium, where I could literally reach up, touch the stars, pluck them from the sky and roll them between my fingers and feel the magic in them. It was a moment I’ll cherish for a lifetime.

The New York City skies makes gazing at the starry night a near impossible challenge. Light pollution, cloudy skies, anything can ruin a good night for you. I noticed how difficult it was when I tried to watch the moon on World Moon Bounce Day and failed to get a clear view of the moon. Convinced my apartment wasn’t providing an ideal moongazing spot, I even strolled outside and soon realized that cloud cover had ruined my night.

Therefore, I began my search to find the right people and the right place stargaze in NYC. An online search revealed NYU is sponsoring the World Science Festival which runs from June 2 through June 6th. The New York City Astronomy will be sponsoring the From the City to the Stars: Star-gazing with the Webb Telescope at Battery Park as part of the World Science Festival.

The successor to the fames Hubble Space telescope, NASA plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope into orbit in 2014 in order to study deep-space, observing the most distant objects in the known universe. While the June 4th event features only a model of the telescope, event guests will be able to interact with one of the many other telescopes at the event. A discussion about the Webb Telescope will take place, moderated by journalist Miles O’Brien with astronomy notables like Nobel laureate (and the Webb telescope’s senior project scientist) John Mather; John Grunsfeld, astronaut, physicist and “chief repairman” of the Hubble Telescope; and planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel.

A clear night is hopefully in the works but even if it’s a bit cloudy, I know that I will be able to see the vastness of the universe with them leading the way. The event is also free, all you will need to do is show up at 8pm! The event runs until 11pm, so even the latecomers can enjoy some of the information the speakers have to offer.

(Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo & Video on Flickr)

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