James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Mirror & John Mather, May 2016

The James Webb Space Telescope (the follow-on to the Hubble Space Telescope, due to be launched in 2018) is currently being assembled in the giant cleanroom at Goddard. The primary mirror (18 hexagonal segments, each more than 5 feet across) was assembled during the winter of 2016, and in late April, the black protective covers were removed, displaying the completed gold-covered mirror for the first time. (See photo at the bottom of this page.)

Then, about a week later, on May 4, 2016, the mirror was pivoted so that it was directly facing the observation window. It remained in this configuration for less than 2 hours, before it was rotated 90 degrees to the side. (By the next day it was pivoted again to be facing downwards, awaiting the integration of the ISIM scientific instrument module.)

I was fortunate that (a) someone informed me of this very narrow time window on that day and (b) I had my digital SLR with me (not just an iPhone). [Unfortunately, I did not have my ultra-wide angle lens that day!]

As the mirror was about to be rotated 90 degrees, I was asked to take photos of John Mather, Senior Project Scientist of JWST (and a 2006 Nobel Laureate) taking a selfie of himself in the mirror with his iPhone!

Two photos from that sequence were subsequently published on the main JWST web site (pages shown below captured on May 24, 2016). Clicking on the images brought up larger 1024x682 pixel versions.

This first image shows the top of the web site, with the banner and the "WebbCam" showing assembly. You can see the observation window off to the right.

web page top
first top image
second top image

This was all part of a sequence as the mirror moved from parallel to the observation window to 90 degrees to the window. In a photo a moment later (below), it was a self-portrait of me in the center of the mirror, with John's reflection now off to the left.


This image shows the stunningly beautiful mirror facing the observation window some minutes before the above photos were taken.


Telescope in vertical configuration on April 26, 2016. Note the people in bunny suits at the lower right for scale.


Technical information:
Canon EOS 70D with Canon 24-105mm f/4 L at 24mm
1/30sec at f/4.0 at ISO 1000