Have you been looking at the photos from the James Webb telescope?
It’s pretty great (and unusual) when the whole world can agree on something, and sometimes science provides exactly that opportunity. Like this month. We’ve been collectively gawping at the amazing images sent to us by the James Webb space telescope.
I mean, come on! How can you not be amazed?
The James Webb was more than 30 years in the making. It launched in December 2021 and much of the scientific community has been holding its collective breath while the device made its way to deep space, opened and arranged its array of mirrors, and began to collect data.
And now we’re getting a peek at places and things no human eyes have seen before.
At least not this clearly and with this high a resolution. Let’s not forget Hubble, which has been amazing both professional and amateur astronomers since 1990, far surpassing its expected lifetime.What does this mean for us here on Earth, to look at planets and galaxies that we’ll likely never to get to visit? For one, the study of astronomy is the study of ourselves, of how our planet came to to exist in such a way that supports life. And it’s a study of resources—where do the minerals and elements that we rely on come from?
And looking at photos made of light that originated 13.7 billion years ago is a really amazing way to spend some time. And maybe the thought of that light traveling all this way will inspire us to be a better species. One that takes care of the only planet we’ve got. Because even though we’re discovering new galaxies every day now, they’re a long way away.
All images courtesy of NASA and STScI.