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Golden Eye on the Cosmos - James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) is the planned next generation orbiting observatory with an approximately 6.5-metre primary mirror. With a broad infrared coverage and vastly improved sensitivity, Webb will study every phase in the history of the Universe, from the first stars and galaxies to the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life, to the Solar System's evolution.

This special exhibition introduces the use of the telescope as a tool of astronomy, Webb's innovative technologies and its science goals. The exhibition also features an animatronic model of the Webb telescope, supplemented by exhibits that explain the science behind infrared astronomy.

Venue: Foyer, Hong Kong Space Museum
Exhibition period: 27 October 2021 - 30 May 2022
Free admission

Exhibit highlights

 

Replica of Galileo's telescope

Replica of Galileo's telescope

Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the heavens for scientific observation in 1609. He eyewitnessed that the Moon had Earth-like valleys and mountains and Jupiter was surrounded by four satellites, etc. Galileo's discoveries revolutionised our understanding of the Universe. The replica is on loan from Museo Galileo: Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Italy.

Life-size replica of a mirror segment

Life-size replica of a mirror segment

Life-size replica of a mirror segment

Webb's primary mirror is 6.5 m across and made from 18 highly polished hexagonal mirror segments. Under each mirror segment, actuators adjust the mirror's curvature to achieve a perfect focus. The exhibition showcases a life-size replica of one of the segments.

Beryllium sample

Beryllium sample

Webb's primary mirror is made of Beryllium (symbol Be), the fourth element in the Periodic Table. Despite its density being comparatively lower than other metals, Beryllium is very strong and good at holding its shape across a range of temperatures. The Beryllium sample showcased is provided by Dr Jason Kwan Kit CHAN, Assistant Professor of Science Education, Department of Chemistry, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Webb's science goals

Webb's science goals

Webb will examine every phase of cosmic history: from the first luminous glow after the Big Bang to the formation of galaxies, stars, and planets to the evolution of the Solar System.

Where is infrared?

Where is infrared?

Webb has a broad infrared coverage. Human eyes are unable to detect infrared light. This interactive exhibit will help visitors to explore its place in the electromagnetic spectrum.

See through with infrared

See Through with Infrared

Stars and planets form in clouds of interstellar dust. Optical observation of the formation process is hindered by dust that obscures visible light. In contrast to visible light that has shorter wavelengths, infrared light is scattered to a lesser extent by dust. So infrared telescopes allow us to observe the formation of stars and planets directly. This interactive exhibit generates smoke to simulate interstellar dust and demonstrates the penetrating power of infrared light.

Animatronic model of Webb

Animatronic model

Animatronic model

Too big to fit into the fairing of any existing rocket, Webb is designed to be foldable. This animatronic model demonstrates the complete sequence of Webb's deployment.