photo of James Webb Telescope in space, portion of earth in lower right corner, birthday stickers added
Photo courtesy of Pixabay. Tasteful additions courtesy of author.

Warning: This article may contain space puns of galactic proportions.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Webb Space Telescope is celebrating its first birthday on July 14, when the Enoch Pratt Free Library will host the telescope’s anniversary party.

From 1-4 p.m. that Friday afternoon, the library’s Central Branch will host a celebration of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first anniversary of sharing science images and data with the world. According to the event page, “Webb experts will host the event…where people of all ages can learn about the telescope and how it studies the universe with its infrared eyes.”

There will be talks about Webb, a Webb virtual reality experience, activities for kids, and giveaways. (If you don’t win anything, maybe you can convince the organizers to give you a constellation prize.)

The Webb experts will talk about the most exciting discoveries from the telescope over the last year, and what it’s like working on the telescope.

The Webb telescope was launched from French Guiana on Dec. 25, 2021. Why is the anniversary being celebrated in July, you ask? Because the telescope wasn’t infrareddy for operation until it had been put into its proper orbit (an approximately million-mile journey that takes around one month.)

Then it had to cool down to operating temperatures before its mirrors and instruments could be calibrated for taking images. All of this takes TIME, people! Better safe than starry.

It wasn’t until July 11, 2022 that the telescope’s first deep field image was released by President Joe Biden, the full set of images released the next day.

Fast forward to yesterday, July 6, and we have news that the Webb detected the most distant active supermassive black hole to date. It’s in a galaxy that existed “just” over 570 million years after the Big Bang. (No reports of whether or not the black hole contains all of the retainers this reporter lost in junior high school, or the metabolism she had in her 20s.)

At any rate, the event is free and open to the public. It’s for all ages and requires no registration. Guaranteed to be out of this world, galaxies beyond anything you’ve ever seen!

The Enoch Pratt Free Library’s main branch is located at 400 Cathedral St. in Baltimore. Click on this link for more information.