The Magnificent Webb Telescope

If you’d like a some relief from the endless succession of foreboding and disturbing news stories and commentary (e.g. the chances of American democracy surviving seem to be ebbing every day), read about the magnificent Webb telescope, which was launched Christmas Day and is now about three-quarters of its way en route to its station about a million miles from Earth. The telescope’s sun shield and secondary mirror and port primary mirror have been successfully deployed in space. I’ve read that this fantastic instrument will fail and become worthless if any one of something like 350 things go wrong. So far about 175 things haven’t! Still ahead: deployment of mirror segments, telescope cooling, telescope alignment, and instrument calibration. First images and spectra are expected in about six months. We’ll learn a lot more about the universe if and after the Webb becomes fully operational.