Watch Clip of James Webb Telescope Gliding Through Space as Astronomer Captures Video

Footage of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) gliding through space has been released by an astronomer who spotted it from Earth.

The video and accompanying photo were released by Gianluca Masi, manager of the Virtual Telescope Project based in Italy.

They show the JWST as little more than a spec moving amongst the stars. At the time the images were taken on December 29, the groundbreaking new telescope was around 340,000 miles away from Earth—about 1.5 times further away from us than the moon is.

The photo and a GIF of the video footage can be seen below.

James Webb Telescope
A photo of the James Webb Space Telescope from Earth, seen here as a spec highlighted by an arrow amid a backdrop of stars. Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project
Remote file

Masi captured the images using a PlaneWave 17" robotic telescope unit that tracked the apparent motion of JWST across the sky.

The astronomer told Newsweek he plans to host a livestream of the telescope moving through space in the near future.

At the time of writing it had been around five days since the JWST blasted into space aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket, starting its month-long journey to its desired orbit.

People keen to stay up to date with the mission's progress can track the telescope's journey through space in real-time via a tracker hosted by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

As of around 7:15 a.m. ET on December 30 the telescope was 390,000 miles away from Earth and had more than 500,000 miles to go until its arrival at the desired orbit around the sun.

There are a number of course corrections it must do along the way to make sure it gets into the exact orbit needed. After that, the NASA tracker will stop showing the telescope's distance and instead track its temperature.

The JWST's end destination is around a point in space known as L2, also called the second Lagrange Point. Lagrange Points are essentially points in space where the gravity from the sun and the Earth balance out on any satellite that's placed there. As such, a satellite at a Lagrange Point will stay in a fixed position relative to the Earth—useful for easy communication, among other things.

There are five Lagrange Points in the sun-Earth system, but one in particular—L2—is perfect for the JWST because it's a nice distance from both the sun and the Earth, allowing it to keep cool and have a good view of the universe.

When the JWST enters a gentle orbit around the L2 point, it will join fellow satellites that have already been sent to the same useful location. These include the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, and the Herschel and Planck space observatories.

Newsweek has previously reported on how the JWST will aid the search for alien life, as well as what will happen to its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.

James Webb Telescope launch
A photo of the James Webb Space Telescope being launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana on December 25, 2021. The telescope is on its way to its desired orbit. Jody Amiet/AFP/Getty