by Peter Densmore, NPS
Bryce Canyon National Park has joined almost 500 sites across the country to celebrate the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s next great space science observatory. The park will offer a day of public programs to bring the excitement of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) to park visitors.
“We are thrilled that Bryce Canyon is an official host site for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch community events,” said superintendent Jim Ireland. “Parks like Bryce Canyon are places of learning and discovery, and this mission promises to fundamentally change our understanding of the universe for this generation and many to come.”
Webb is the largest and most complex space science telescope ever built – the premier observatory of the next decade. This international mission, led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies, will launch in December 2021.
The observatory will provide a new view of the cosmos and push the field of astronomy into a new era. The telescope will observe the universe in the infrared, peering inside dust clouds to study light from distant parts of the universe for the very first time – the first galaxies that formed about 13.5 billion years ago – and give us insight into how our universe formed.
It will also explore distant worlds in other solar systems, as well as objects in our own solar system. Webb will extend the scientific discoveries of other NASA missions like the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
To celebrate this historic launch, the park will be hosting a day of astronomy programs on Saturday, November 6. Throughout the day, videos exploring the Webb telescope and its mission will be shown in the Visitor Center museum night sky area. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., astronomy-themed art activities for all ages will be offered in the Visitor Center plaza.
At 3 p.m., in the Visitor Center theater, the park will host a live virtual presentation by Dr. Kevin Hainline, Assistant Research Professor at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory. As a member of the JWST Science Team, he will discuss how this new space telescope will further his and other scientific research.
Later that evening, the park will offer weather-dependent night sky and telescope viewing. Sign-up for night sky and telescope viewing will be available at the Visitor Center front desk same-day from 8 a.m. until full.
These events and activities are free with park admission. For a full schedule of events, visit our calendar page at go.nps.gov/brycewebb.
To learn more about the Webb telescope, visit webb.nasa.gov. For information about other Webb community event locations, visit webb.nasa.gov/content/features/celebrateWebb.html.