To start the meeting our Vice President Peter Black updated us on the upcoming Society programme. Peter also pointed out that our membership now stands at a very healthy 182.
We were joined this evening by Dr Pamela Klaassen, a Project Scientist based at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh ,who spoke to us about “From Launch to first Science: a JWST Year to remember ”, the story of the first year of this incredible, ground breaking, new space observatory.
After some initial technical difficulties, Pamela led us through the intended Mission for the telescope, the Commissioning process, and finally some of the selected Science that the James Webb Space Telescope has already achieved!
After a flawless launch that extended the working life of the telescope from a projected 5 years to 20 years ! Having successfully negotiated over 300 possible failure points JWST established itself at the orbitally stable Lagrange point 2, one million miles from earth. It’s enormous 6.5 metre segmented mirror and 5 layer heat shield allowing it to see in the near and mid Infrared wavelengths with unprecedented precision.
Four superb instruments (one designed and built in Edinburgh) have now being doing astonishing science, through the telescope. Pamela listed ancient galaxies, spectrographic analysis of nebulae and previously invisible dust rings around Wolf Rayet stars, plus much more !
We are only at the beginning………..
To follow, Sean Wixted gave us an excellent and entertaining “Sky in July” and reminded us that astronomy is still possible through this season of light nights, and previous winner of the Image of the Quarter, Pat Devine, took us through his choice of this Quarters winner.