Pushing the boundaries of outer space

This exercise is a part of Educator Guide: Postcards From a New Space Telescope / View Guide

Directions for teachers:

Ask students to read the online Science News article “Here are the James Webb Space Telescope’s stunning first pictures,” which highlights dazzling cosmic wonders seen in farthest and clearest views yet of deep space, and answer the following questions. A version of the article, “Postcards from a new space telescope,” appears in the August 13, 2022 issue of Science News.

1. What is the James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope is a new telescope that is based in space and that can see the farthest of any space telescope.

2. What do the first images from the telescope show?     

Gas and dust that make up a structure where stars are born called the Cosmic Cliffs; galaxies more than 13 billion years in the past; a group of five galaxies that spin around each other; a shell of gas and dust expelled by a dying star.

3. What is special about the quality of the images?

The images push the limits of how far and how clearly humankind can see into outer space.

4. Why are the images “a long time coming?”

The James Webb Space Telescope was dreamed up more than 30 years ago but only launched in December 2021.

5. What do you think senior project scientist John Mather means when he says, “The mysteries of the universe will not come to an end anytime soon.”

The telescope will help solve universal mysteries and uncover new ones.

6. The version of the article that appears in the print edition of Science News is titled “Postcards from a new space telescope.” What literary device does the title use? Explain.

The title uses metaphor to liken the images to postcards.