How to watch NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch on Christmas day

The largest and most powerful telescope ever made is finally set to launch on Christmas day. After years of delays, the long-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope has been given the green light for lift-off. Here’s how you can tune in live.

On Saturday (Dec. 25) at 7:20 a.m. EST (4:20 a.m. PT), the shiny new hexagonal observatory called the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will launch from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on board ESA’s Ariane 5; the same rocket responsible for carrying the BepiColombo spacecraft to Mercury in 2018.

Live launch coverage in English begins on Dec. 25 at 6 a.m. EST. You can watch the launch on NASA’s YouTube Channel or NASA TV, and on the agency’s website. NASA also will broadcast the launch in Spanish beginning at 6:30 a.m. on the NASA en Español YouTube Channel. This stream will be hosted by Begoña Vila, Webb instrument systems engineer, and will feature live commentary from other Spanish-speaking members of the mission.

You can also follow Space Explored on Twitter for live tweets leading up to the launch as well as our live blog.

Like its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched 31 years ago, JWST will find the first galaxies formed in the early universe and peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems. However, unlike the closer Hubble telescope, JWST won’t be parked just a couple of hundred miles above Earth, but out to the Sun-Earth Lagrange Point 2 (L2), about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from our planet.

Lagrange points are areas where gravity from the sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of a satellite. Putting a spacecraft at any of these points allows it to stay in a fixed position relative to the Earth and sun, with a minimal amount of energy needed for course correction.
What’s also special about this orbit is that it lets the telescope stay in line with the Earth as it moves around the Sun. This allows the satellite’s large sunshield to protect the telescope from the light and heat of the Sun and Earth (and Moon). Video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for Saturday to roll around, you can catch up on all things James Webb here. Plus, be sure to follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, so you don’t miss a thing.

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