World’s Largest Space Telescope Is Complete, Expected to Launch in 2018 

In the article, “World’s Largest Space Telescope Is Complete, Expected to Launch in 2018”, posted to, relates to our ninth objective, “I can describe the functions of a telescope, types of telescopes, and why some telescopes are placed on the ground and some in space”, accordingly. To begin, the article first begins by stating the amazing and exciting news that after twenty years of construction, the largest telescope is finally complete and working. Comparing the telescope to the Hubble, it is much more powerful because it is the biggest telescope mirror to fly in place and is also designed to collect infrared light. Since Earth’s atmosphere affects much of the light we can see from the ground due to it glowing in the infrared, the James Webb will be able to avoid this problem. From our lecture tutorial books, section “Telescopes and Earth’s Atmosphere”, we learned that the atmosphere absorbs radiation, except at visible light, infrared, and radio frequencies, which is why the most important reason behind having telescopes in space is so astronomers can observe light that does not penetrate Earth’s atmosphere. In this section of our books, we saw on page 51 a drawing that illustrated the amount of different wavelengths of light that were able to penetrate down through Earth’s atmosphere and were able to see that only UV and infrared light were able to completely penetrate and gamma and x-ray only partially penetrated the atmosphere. Also, even though we have space telescopes, it is much less expensive to build large telescopes on the ground too. The article states that although the Hubble emits its own heat that caused obscure infrared readings, the Webb telescope will run close to absolute zero in temperature and be able to rest at a point in space directly behind Earth from the sun’s perspective. This is beneficial because the Earth will shield the Webb telescope from the sun’s infrared emission. With this, the telescope’s infrared view will be able to go through obscuring cosmic dust and reveal the universe’s first galaxies, as well as forming planetary systems. The function of this telescope has mirrors so smooth that it is stated by scientist, John Mather, “if you stretched the array to the size of the U.S., the hills and valleys of irregularity would be only a few inches high”. From lectures in class and effective note taking, we know that a refracting telescope uses transparent lenses to collect and focus light, whereas a reflecting telescope uses a curved primary mirror to gather light, which is currently used most for astronomical research. Both of these telescopes have advantages, such as a refractor has superb resolution, good for detail, rugged alignment and a reflector is good for dim objects, a large aperture, uniform treatment of colors, etc. Overall, the full mirror size of the James Webb telescope is 21.3 feet and will be one of the greatest launches of any telescope in our history. I found this article very interesting and informative because I was not knowledgeable about how magnificent this telescope actually is. This objective we learned helped to me correlate the article’s information sufficiently and learn more as I was writing this blog post. I am happy to say I am now not only informed of how a telescope functions, types of telescopes, and why some are placed in ground and others in space, but also the largest telescope in the world.


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