The James Webb Space Telescope launched in December 2021. The Oregon Charter Academy in Wilsonville and OMSI in Portland are among the sites showing the first images on July 12.

An Oregon school will join hundreds of sites across the nation in celebrating the release of the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope — the most technologically advanced of its kind — at a July 12 event.

The event is slated for 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 at Oregon Charter Academy in Wilsonville is open in person to the first 100 registrants and then first 1,000 virtual registrants as well. Those wishing to register can do so at oregoncharter.org/james-webb.

After the telescope mission took off on Dec. 25, 2021, it recently reached its destination nearly 1 million miles from Earth.

The technology utilized by the telescope allows for the universe to be viewed in infrared and will help give insight into the formation of the universe through the study of light.

The July 12 event includes a showing of the recorded NASA broadcast, which highlights the first batch of five images from the telescope and a slideshow featuring information about the telescope and its purpose. Also featured is a Q&A with experts from NASA and an appearance from the University of Oregon’s physics department. The department will send members to the event and assist attendees in using special-lensed telescopes, which allow individuals to look directly at the sun.

The charter academy is the only school and one of just seven organizations statewide to be selected to participate in the viewing. Dan Vasen, the principal of the academy’s STEM programs and champion of the school’s NASA club, said the school learned of the opportunity through the NASA Express newsletter and applied to be one of the organizations to showcase the images.

“Igniting interest in STEM is imperative to ORCA,” Vasen said in a statement. “Providing special opportunities through events like these can stimulate the type of learning that creates passion, while at the same time helping students process classroom topics and their relevance to real world applications.”

One of the academy’s chief focuses is presenting students with opportunities through enrichment programs such as its three-year-old NASA club, which hosts monthly live streams from NASA space centers to students. The club also provides virtual-reality experiences. In February, a group of nearly 100 academy students and staff watched the Webb Telescope as it reached its final destination.

“The NASA club is just one of the many STEM programs at ORCA,” Vasen said. “In an effort to take remote learning to the next level, we’ll be partnering with more space centers next year to increase the number of virtual events and the scope of educational enrichment materials provided to ORCA students.”

Other events planned in Oregon

Additional organizations in Oregon will be holding activities around the Webb Telescope throughout the summer. Here are a description of two, taken from their websites:

July 12: OMSI (Portland): View the first images from the telescope with a live expert NASA panel live via satellite on NASA TV in the planetarium and auditorium beginning at 7:00 a.m. with the first images scheduled at 7:30 a.m. and other events during the day.

July 30: Science Works Hands-On Museum (Ashland): This event will feature James Webb exhibits and hands-on projects.

To learn more about the Webb telescope, visit webb.nasa.gov.

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