Astronomers and star gazers across the world, usually looking up in the sky, will be focused instead today on computer and television screens to watch the official announcement of the first images to be released by the James Webb space Telescope.
You can count Kent Montgomery among them.
“We are all looking forward to it,” Montgomery, head of the
Physics and Astronomy Department at Texas A&M-Commerce, said Monday morning. “We are all anxiously waiting for those first images.”
The initial images were scheduled to be released Monday evening during a presentation from the White House.
But the majority of the first images were to be posted this morning.
According to an announcement from NASA, the first full-color images and data from the telescope are expected to be released at around 9:30 a.m. local time, with a media briefing on the release scheduled two hours later.
Montgomery said there is nothing official planned at the school, but he knows he and the staff at the department will be watching closely.
“It is pretty cool,” he said.
According to a release from NASA, the first images that will be presented include the Carina Nebula, one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the sky, located approximately 7,600 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. Other images are expected to include a giant planet composed mainly of gas located outside our solar system and other astronomical phenomena, including faint galaxy clusters.
Montgomery said the power of the Webb Telescope and its position at the L2 point. Also known as the second Lagrange Point, where gravity from the sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of a satellite, allowing it to stay in a fixed position relative to the Earth and sun with a minimal amount of energy needed for course correction. This position means the Webb Telescope should provide unprecedented images of the universe.
“We will be finding things we had never been able to find before,” Montgomery said.