How to Watch Livestream of NASA's James Webb Telescope Moving Through Space

A livestream showing the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) moving through space as viewed from Earth is due to go online on January 7.

The groundbreaking new telescope is currently on its way to its desired orbit around the sun after its launch on December 25—a journey that is expected to take about a month.

The JWST has captured the imagination of many, since it will be able to peer deeper into space than its predecessor, the famous Hubble Space Telescope.

This week, the Virtual Telescope Project based in Italy released images and a short video of the telescope moving across the sky as seen from Earth, visible as a small dot against a backdrop of stars.

On Friday, the Virtual Telescope Project announced that it would also be hosting a livestream of the JWST moving through the sky as it travels further and further away from Earth. During the stream the JWST will be tracked through space by robotic ground-based telescopes.

The live feed is scheduled for January 7 at 4:30 p.m. ET and it will be shown on the Virtual Telescope Project's webTV page here.

The JWST is headed to a point in space known as the second Lagrange Point, or L2. Its journey can be followed online via a tracker hosted by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Located around 1 million miles away from Earth, L2 is a point in space at which the gravity of the Earth and the sun equals the centripetal force required to keep an object moving with them.

Specifically, the JWST will remain in the same point in space relative to the Earth as it orbits the sun.

This L2 orbit means that the JWST will remain out of the shadows of the Earth and moon, giving it an unimpeded view of the universe allowing for 24/7 scientific observations.

Communicating Twice a Day

In addition, since Webb will always be at roughly the same place relative to Earth, it will be easy for scientists to communicate with it. Twice a day, command sequences will be uploaded to the telescope and data downloaded back to Earth from the telescope.

According to the NASA tracker, Webb was around 430,000 miles away from Earth at 7 a.m. ET on Friday, just under 50 percent of the way to the L2 point.

Although the telescope is already around half of the way to its final destination, it will still take a few weeks to get there as it's slowing down over time.

The JWST should also currently be in the process of deploying its sunshield—a task that's expected to take several days. In 2022, it will go on to fully deploy its mirrors before starting regular science operations around half way through the year.

It has been reported that the JWST will be able to help scientists in the search for alien life, among its other uses.

James Webb Telescope
An illustration of the James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope is currently on its way to its desired orbit around the sun. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Aaron E. Lepsch / Michael P. Menzel