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Astronomer Working on the Hubble Telescope's Replacement Speaks in Louisville Today

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An astronomer working on the replacement to the Hubble Telescope will discuss the project Thursday at the Rauch Planetarium on the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus.Rogier Windhorst will speak during the 2014 Bullitt Lecture in Astronomy. Gerry Williger, UofL associate professor of astronomy, said that the new telescope is an important project for NASA to replace the Hubble telescope and said it is due to a few reasons. “First of all we have no more space shuttle. You need a space shuttle to go there and second of all the whole infrastructure is getting kind of old and we can do bigger and better things. Hubble will be allowed to die like an old car and eventually it’s going to break,” Williger said. Windhorst will discuss the complex project of building the new telescope, and why the team working on the telescope hopes it will lead to more information about the formation of stars and planetary systems. The Webb Telescope will cost $8 billion, Williger said. "The James Webb Telescope is expensive because we have to develop technologies," he said. He said the new telescope should head into space in 2017 or 2017, and astronomers are hopeful the Webb and the Hubble can work together. But, Williger said, the "Hubble is living on borrowed time." The new telescope is named for James Webb, who was a NASA administrator during the Apollo mission years. Williger said that the new telescope is going to be much larger than the Hubble telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope will be 2 1/2 times further away than the moon and stay permanently in Earth's shadow. “This is the number one astronomy project for the world for the next decade. it is the big thing and so if people’s tax money are going to be toward it they should see what’s going to happen and why we’re doing it. We’re addressing fundamental issues of where did we come from,” Williger said. Here's more information about the lecture.