Every morning I rededicate myself to our world, to future generations, and to our web of life on Earth which includes you. The words I use include “I am the dimly seeing, thinking Universe….” I say “dimly seeing” because we see only a tiny fraction of reality, including only a tiny fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum, can’t detect all sound frequencies, are blind to magnetic fields, voltages, and so much more – a lot of which we don’t even know about. But with the instruments invented through science, our eyes grow bigger every year. We just grew again – with a big step up when first light was detected by the James Webb telescope, far beyond the Earth, earlier this month!
Just check out the slider images at this page, where one can slide the partition across to directly compare the capabilities of the two telescopes. Wow!
The improved images make sense when one sees how much bigger the main collection mirror is on the Webb telescope compared to the Hubble. The other differences and improvements are also impressive.
And the wonders don’t stop there!From the NASA page:
Because of the time it takes light to travel, the farther away an object is, the farther back in time we are looking.
This illustration compares various telescopes and how far back they are able to see. Essentially, Hubble can see the equivalent of “toddler galaxies” and Webb Telescope will be able to see “baby galaxies”. One reason Webb will be able to see the first galaxies is because it is an infrared telescope. The universe (and thus the galaxies in it) is expanding.
When we talk about the most distant objects, Einstein’s General Relativity actually comes into play. It tells us that the expansion of the universe means it is the space between objects that actually stretches, causing objects (galaxies) to move away from each other. Furthermore, any light in that space will also stretch, shifting that light’s wavelength to longer wavelengths. This can make distant objects very dim (or invisible) at visible wavelengths of light, because that light reaches us as infrared light. Infrared telescopes, like Webb, are ideal for observing these early galaxies.
How might you incorporate this into your spiritual life? For me, this is a treasure trove of inspiration, a lot of which will be used for my Winter Solstice observances (because I focus especially on stars for that holiday). I can see some of these images enlarged and framed for my walls and my Altar/Focus as well. Are ideas already coming to you? Blessed be!
The Author: Jon Cleland Host
Starstuff, Contemplating: We are assemblages of ancient atoms forged in stars – atoms organized by history to the point of consciousness, now able to contemplate this sacred Universe of which we are a tiny, but wondrous, part.
Dr. Jon Cleland Host is a scientist who earned his PhD in materials science at Northwestern University & has conducted research at Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning since 1997. He holds eight patents and has authored over three dozen internal scientific papers and eleven papers for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the journal Nature. He has taught classes on biology, math, chemistry, physics and general science at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. Jon grew up near Pontiac, and has been building a reality-based spirituality for over 30 years, first as a Catholic and now as a Unitarian Universalist, including collaborating with Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow to spread the awe and wonder of the Great Story of our Universe (see www.thegreatstory.org, and the blog at evolutionarytimes.org). Jon and his wife have four sons, whom they embrace within a Universe-centered, Pagan, family spirituality. He currently moderates the yahoo group Naturalistic Paganism.