This summer, the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope will be revealed, and Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg and other Tampa Bay sites will join NASA in celebrating the release.
NASA will have a televised broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. on July 12 to reveal the powerful space telescope’s first images. The following week, MOSI will have a special space day on July 16 to view the first images and learn all about the science behind the space telescope. There will be hands-on astronomy activities for all ages.
Great Explorations is also partnering with NASA on Aug. 5 for Space Exploration Day, with science-based space activities and a pop-up planetarium dome. Local libraries, including the West Community Library at St. Petersburg College and the Riverview Public Library, will also have the images on display and special programs.
Webb is a $10 billion space telescope — the largest ever built. It was launched on Christmas Day in 2021 and is collecting scientific data that will help answer questions about the earliest moments of the universe. It will allow astronomers to study the universe in greater detail than ever before.
“It has been about 20 years since work first began on the telescope, so it is a pretty exciting day for astronomy fans,” said Kathleen Blackett, who teaches introductory physics at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus and will present the images at the West Community Library on July 12 and talk about the science.
Webb is expected to push the field of astronomy into a new era because scientists will be able to study light from distant parts of the universe for the very first time. It took almost eight months of travel and calibration to prepare the telescope for its moment in the spotlight.
“People of all ages and backgrounds will find inspiration in Webb’s new view of the cosmos,” said John Graydon Smith, CEO and president of MOSI. “It will fundamentally change our understanding of the universe for this generation and many to come.”
Here are some of the events planned in the Tampa Bay area to find out what the Webb telescope has so far discovered.
MOSI: There will be hands-on astronomy activities for all ages and Webb’s first images on display on July 16. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $12.95, $10.95 seniors, $7.95 age 3-12. 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. 813-987-6000. mosi.org.
Great Explorations Children’s Museum: The hands-on museum in St. Petersburg will have a Space Exploration Day on Aug. 5, coordinated by NASA. There will be a viewing of James Webb Telescope’s first images, space activities, special programs and a pop-up planetarium dome where families can stargaze at the night sky within the museum. 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. $12, $11 age 44 and up, $15 age 1-17. 1925 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. 727-821-8992. greatex.org.
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West Community Library at St. Petersburg College: There will be a public lecture held at 6 p.m. on July 12 with the first official images released earlier that day from the James Webb Space Telescope. There will be a talk in both English and Spanish with information about the telescope. They will also have paper models of the telescope for anyone who would like to build one. 6700 Eighth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 727-341-7199.
Riverview Public Library: The library will have a display of Webb’s first full-color images and an activity station set up July 12-15 at 9951 Balm Riverview Road, Riverview. 813-273-3652.
NASA: The space agency is making images available on social media as well as on the agency’s website at nasa.gov/webbfirstimages.