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How to see the first images

On Tuesday, the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope will be revealed, and the Orlando Science Center will join other venues throughout Florida in celebrating the release of the deep space photos.

NASA’s televised broadcast will begin at 10:30 a.m. on July 12 to disclose the powerful space telescope’s first images. The following Saturday (July 16), OSC will host a Webb Telescope Celebration Day to commemorate the release of the first images and offer educational opportunities for attendees to learn about the science behind the space telescope. There will be hands-on astronomy activities for all ages.

Launched last December, 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. Positioned 1 million miles from Earth, Webb is considered the successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope.

Scientists are keeping the identity of Webb’s first official target a secret.

The telescope is named after James E. Webb, NASA administrator from 1961 to 1968 during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

According to NASA, at the height of the Apollo program, the agency had 35,000 employees and more than 400,000 contractors in thousands of companies and universities across the U.S. Under Webb’s direction, the agency undertook one of the most impressive projects in history — landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade.

Sean O’Keefe, administrator of NASA from 2001-2005, said when he announced the new name for the next generation space telescope, “It is fitting that Hubble’s successor be named in honor of James Webb. Thanks to his efforts, we got our first glimpses at the dramatic landscape of outer space. He took our nation on its first voyages of exploration, turning our imagination into reality. Indeed, he laid the foundations at NASA for one of the most successful periods of astronomical discovery. As a result, we’re rewriting the textbooks today with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope , the Chandra X-ray Observatory , and the James Webb Telescope.”

Tampa’s 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.

“It has been about 20 years since work first began on the telescope, so it is a pretty exciting day for astronomy fans,” Kathleen Blackett told the Tampa Bay Times. Blackett teaches introductory physics at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus and will present the images at the college’s 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.

Here are some of the Florida events planned to find out what the Webb telescope has so far discovered.

Orlando Science Center: Celebrate the release of the first photos from the Webb Telescope with a day of out-of-this-world live shows, demos, hands-on activities and more. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. July 16; 777 E. Princeton St. in Orlando; 407-514-2000;

Things to Do

Things to Do


A look at entertainment and sporting events in Orlando and around Central Florida.

NASA: Live coverage of the image release broadcast will air at 10:30 a.m. July 12 on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. The public also can watch live on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, and Daily Motion. Following the live broadcast, NASA and its partners will hold a joint media briefing at 12 p.m. at NASA Goddard. The briefing will livestream on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach: Join the Lohman Planetarium July 16 for a monumental day in astronomy as the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope arrive. Unfolding the Universe with the JWST begins at 2 p.m. before the NASA Expert Panel Discussion of First Images at 3:30 p.m. Free for members or with paid museum admission. Entry for presentations is included with admission and is on a first-come, first-served basis. $6.95 for children ages 6-17; $10.95 for seniors and students; $12.95 for adults; 352 S. Nova Road in Daytona Beach; 386-255-0285;

James Webb Space Telescope First Images Party in Melbourne: Hosted by Joe Evans, NASA Solar System Ambassador. Open to the public. Tickets are first-come, first-served. 4:30 p.m. Social Hour (no free refreshments); 5 p.m. Mission Brief; 5:30 p.m. First Images Show; 6 p.m. Live Expert Panel Stream. Free; July 16; Premiere Theaters Oaks 10, 1800 W. Hibiscus Blvd. in Melbourne;

Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa: There will be hands-on astronomy activities for all ages and Webb’s first images on display from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on July 16. $12.95, $10.95 seniors, $7.95 age 3-12; 4801 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa; 813-987-6000;

Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg: The hands-on museum in St. Petersburg will have a Space Exploration Day from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Aug. 5, coordinated by NASA. There will be a viewing of the 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. $12, $11 age 44 and older, $15 age 1-17; 1925 Fourth St. N. in St. Petersburg; 727-821-8992;

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. in St. Petersburg; 727-341-7199

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