July 12, The James Webb Telescope
A marvelous achievement, credit to the human race:
The James Webb telescope is looking so far back in space
For light that’s so red-shifted that it’s in the infrared, (1)
From thirteen billion years ago, from stars which are long dead.
Not quite back to the Big Bang, to the start of our cosmos,
Not quite back to the Big Bang but we’re getting pretty close,
Before God said, “Let there be light…” six thousand years ago, (2)
No, more than thirteen billion years, how far back we can go.
We think that we are stardust; now we’ll see how stars are born,
For we can see that far back, to the cosmos’ early morn.
We’ll watch stars form; we’ll watch stars die; we’ll watch their whole lifespan.
Will we find lots of planets like Earth where our life began?
We’ll see the range of planetary systems circling stars,
The chemistry of atmospheres like Venus, Earth, and Mars.
Will we find some in orbits neither too cold nor too hot?
And, might we find some signs of life, intelligent or not?
Astonishing technology put James Webb into space.
Where balanced gravity of Sun and Earth hold it in place.
What else are we expecting that the James Webb will achieve?
The answers to new questions that we cannot yet conceive.
- Astronomer Edwin Hubble, 1889-1953, announced “Hubble’s Law” in 1929, which states that, due to the expansion of the universe, the farther away galaxies are from us, the faster they are moving away from us. This causes their light to be “red shifted,” due to the “Doppler effect.” You can hear an example of this Doppler effect when you hear the whistle of an approaching train shift to a lower pitch as it passes you and moves away.
- James Ussher, 1581-1656, served as archbishop of the Church of Ireland from 1625-1656. A renowned Biblical scholar, he determined the date of creation of the Earth as October 22, 4004, BC. His methodology is interesting to study.