Webb Wednesday: JWST Image Release Celebration

July 13, 2022


Image: European Space Agency


Activities and presentations that celebrate the newly released images from the James Webb Space Telescope



NASA has announced it will be releasing the first full-color images and spectroscopic data from the next generation of giant space telescopes, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Tuesday, July 12, 2022.

On Wednesday, July 13 we're inviting University of Arizona Astronomer Dr. Kevin Hainline (member of the James Webb Space Telescope NIRCam team) to discuss the newly released images at an evening lecture in the Eos Planetarium Theater. The day will feature planetarium shows, special activities for kids and adults, a presentation designed to show and discuss the images, and opportunities to meet an astronomer.

Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
RELEASED ON JULY 12: "This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth."

Webb Wednesday

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2022

  • Exhibits and Shows 10AM-5PM

  • SOLD OUT: JWST Lecture 7:30PM (Doors open at 7PM)

Special Event Reduced Admission Prices

  • $5 exhibit admission includes all science exhibits and activities in exhibit halls

  • Planetarium shows and lecture tickets are an additional $5 per person, per show

Exhibit Activities

Included with special discounted rate of $5 for Science Center Exhibit Admission

10:00AM-8:00PM - Science Center Exhibits

Wild World of Bugs, Sharks: Magnificent & Misunderstood, HiRISE: Eye in the Martian Sky, Solar System Revealed, Destination: Mars, Puzzling the Past, The Fossil Corner

Buy $5 EXHIBIT Tickets

10:00AM-8:00PM - Special Activities

Solar Bracelets
JWST Activity Sheets
Make a Pinwheel Galaxy
Build-Your-Own Space Telescope

Included with Exhibit Admission

1:00PM - Meet the Astronomer and Take Home a Webb Image

Get your Webb telescope questions answered, receive a glossy print of one of the images taken by JWST (limited to first 100 guests), and get an autograph from University of Arizona Astronomer and NIRCam design team member Dr. Kevin Hainline.

Included with Exhibit Admission

Planetarium Theater Schedule

Tickets below are sold separately from exhibit admission. Seating and tickets are limited. Advance purchase is recommended.

11:00AM - Undiscovered Worlds

The JWST will allow scientists to study deep space objects like never before, and that includes exciting exoplanets! Take a journey outside of our solar system to discover new worlds, including one like Earth and others that are wildly different. 

Buy $5 Tickets

12:00PM - NASA Science Live in the Planetarium

"Webb’s First Full-Color Images Explained | A Never-Before-Seen View of the Universe"

Enjoy NASA's live stream from our planetarium! This program will present and explain the newly released images from JWST.

The NASA Livestream is FREE and open to the public. No admission is required.

2:00PM - We Are Stars

A fun, gorgeously animated fulldome show for young families about our explosive origins and how hydrogen and carbon formed the building blocks of life in the universe.

Buy $5 Tickets

3:00PM - Forward! To the Moon

NASA’s 21st century Artemis program, named after the Greek moon Goddess and twin of Apollo, is the next step in our mission to explore the universe and land the first woman and person of color on the surface of the Moon.

​​​Buy $5 Tickets

4:00PM - Undiscovered Worlds

The JWST will allow scientists to study deep space objects like never before, and that includes exciting exoplanets!

Buy $5 Tickets

5:30PM - Tucson Sky & Beyond

Join one of our planetarium operators in a journey through the night sky! This live star talks explores astronomy from a Tucson perspective.

Buy $5 Tickets

SOLD OUT 7:30PM - "JWST: The First Images and The Promise of Decades of Discovery"

Get an insider's perspective and breakdown on the newly released images from the James Webb Space Telescope. University of Arizona Astronomer and JWST NIRCam design team member Dr. Kevin Hainline leads this evening lecture. Doors open at 7PM.


About the James Webb Space Telescope

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope,is the largest observatory ever sent into orbit, representing the next generation of giant space telescopes.

In order to peer deeper into space and time than any telescope has before, the JWST relies on cutting-edge optical science and engineering, some of which the University of Arizona has developed.

  • The mirror on James Webb Space Telescope is made of beryllium, which is lightweight yet strong, and can withstand very cold temperatures. The JWST has to be kept at about -375 degrees Fahrenheit for its instruments to function properly.
  • The JWST’s mirror is covered in a thin layer of gold, because gold improves the mirror’s reflection of infrared light. Because the gold is pure and soft, it will be shielded by a protective layer of glass.
  • The sunshield on James Webb Space Telescope is 70 feet by 48 feet, or roughly the size of a tennis court.
  • All in all, the JWST weighs 14,000 pounds, which is about as much as a full-size school bus.
  • From Earth, the JWST appears more than 10,000 times fainter than the faintest star seen by the naked eye.
  • The JWST orbits the sun, 940,000 miles away from Earth, four times further away than the moon.
  • To fit on the rocket within its six-and-a-half-ton weight limit, yet maintain the size necessary to perform its observations, the JWST telescope was designed to be lightweight and have a flexible structure. This flexibility makes the telescope susceptible to vibrations whenever it moves, even the tiny movements that keep it pointed.
  • Just as a shaky camera makes for blurry photos, even small tremors interfere with the telescope’s image quality. To keep images in sharp focus, the JWST needs to minimize vibrations. To do this, rubber shock absorbers cushion the tower that holds the primary mirror.

JWST and people.jpg

A scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope with the JWST crew

UArizona's Role

The instrument that will form the heart of NASA's JWST was assembled and tested by aerospace company Lockheed Martin under a contract from the University of Arizona.

The Near Infrared Camera instrument, dubbed NIRCam, was designed by Lockheed Martin and the UA, incorporating innovative optical, mechanical, structural, thermal and electronic mechanisms.

NIRCam’s focal plane, which is similar to a digital camera’s imaging sensor, was developed by a team led by Marcia Rieke, a Regents' Professor of Astronomy in the UA’s Steward Observatory.

With its 21-foot mirror, JWST will enable observation of the most distant galaxies. The NIRCam design is optimized for finding first light sources, peering through clouds of hydrogen and dust in space that obscure these objects.

The camera is equipped with coronagraphs, instruments that allow astronomers to take pictures of very faint objects around a central bright object, like planets around distant stars. The NIRCam coronagraphs work by blocking a brighter object's light, making it possible to view the dimmer object nearby – just like shielding the sun from your eyes with an upraised hand can allow you to focus on the view in front of you. With the coronagraphs, astronomers hope to determine the characteristics of planets orbiting nearby stars.

The NIRCam instrument consists of two identical optical imaging modules and contains focal plane assemblies, or FPA, assembled at the UA using detectors provided by Teledyne. The FPA hardware consists of 40 million pixels and is designed for operation in the cold of deep space at 35 degrees Kelvin or about -400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to NIRCam, a mid-infrared-wavelength camera is also part of the telescope’s instrumentation. That instrument was developed by a group led by George Rieke, also a Regents’ Professor at the UA Steward Observatory.

Source: University of Arizona Research, Impact, & Innovation