Donna Jordan, 69, remembers watching the Moon landing in 1969. She remembers being amazed. 

“Oh my God. It was incredible. It was out of this world,” Jordan said.

The same feeling she felt in 1969, she felt July 12 when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency released images captured by their new telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, the former largest space telescope to exist. Using a tennis court-sized Sun shield and multiple mirrors, the Webb telescope captured infrared images of exoplanets, or planets outside of the Milky Way Galaxy, and galaxies.

Jordan was not the only one who compared the release of the hyper-detailed images on July 11 to the Moon landing in 1969, however. The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Planetarium Supervisor Nicolas Baczewski did, too.

“This telescope is going to advance our knowledge of astronomy by many, many times,” Baczewski said. “This is probably the most important event in astronomy for this decade barring any sort of Moon relanding.”

An image of the “Cosmic Cliffs” in the Carina Nebula was released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency on July 12. (Courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)
An image of Stephan’s Quintet was released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency on July 12. (Courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)
An image of the Southern Ring Nebula was released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency on July 12. (Courtesy of NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)

“The significance of images is that a lot of these things we’ve never seen before and there’s so many questions that we have, that we can answer with these images,” Baczewski said.

“It’s not just about the pretty pictures.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.