Hey, NASA, how about renaming the JWST?


This documentary makes an excellent case. The telescope was named by a breach of their established protocol, and, while it’s true James Webb did good things for NASA, his role in the Cold War and the Lavender Scare makes it an uncomfortable name for LGBQT+ scientists now.

Comments

  1. StevoR says

    But I won’t use his name for it.

    If enough people do the same, well, that’d be at least something.

  2. says

    I wrote this in a comment here once before, but I would still like to see NASA name something after one of the underappreciated woman astronomers who made valuable contributions to the science in the early 20th century, despite the fact that women were not allowed to be astronomers at the time. Either Annie Jump Cannon, who devised a scheme of stellar classification still in use today, or Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who discovered the absolute magnitude/period relationship in Cepheid variable stars, would have been better choices.
    Also, they had cool names. Imagine it–the Annie Jump Cannon ‘scope.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Since it’s causing so much unrest and controversy, shut it down and place it into an entry orbit.

  4. StevoR says

    @ ^ Or y’know just rename it to honour someone whodeserves the honour rather than bigot whodoes not.

  5. says

    Naming it after Sagan is apt because it will see billions and billions of stars.

    NASA seems to think they’ll have it ready to go in 10 years but that may be optimistic, eapecially if St Elon Musk decides to take a fire axe to SpaceX next.

  6. says

    I know about Ariane. SpaceX is keeping payload costs competitive by being an alternative. And ESA is run by adults, which is good.

    Musk is a good case study on the dangers of relying on capitalists who something mumble free market invisible hand wossname

  7. bcw bcw says

    Webb appears to followed the route of passive resistance to McCarthy that much of the executive branch did at Truman’s orders- delay and not respond to demands for names and personnel data. Webb does not appear to have ever turned over any names to the McCarthy witch hunts. Nor does he appear to have actively campaigned against gay people. As a gay man, Webb’s actions have be taken in the context of the pre-Mattachine 1950’s when any active opposition anti-gay pressures would have been meant instant firing.

  8. bcw bcw says

    @11 “As a gay man”, means this is my opinion as a gay man who grew up in the 1960’s. The sentence is unclear.

  9. DonDueed says

    @feralboy12: Well, as long as they didn’t call it the Cannon-Leavitt Infrared Telescope…

  10. StevoR says

    @ ^ DonDueed : I see what you’ve done there!

    @5. feralboy12 :

    I wrote this in a comment here once before, but I would still like to see NASA name something after one of the underappreciated woman astronomers who made valuable contributions to the science in the early 20th century, despite the fact that women were not allowed to be astronomers at the time.

    There’s a lot of good suggestions here on this old thread :

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2022/03/25/how-about-if-we-just-call-it-the-homophobic-space-telescope/

    Including the Dr. Frank Kameny Space Telescope (#32 Intransitive), the QEFTC: Queer Eye for the Cosmos. (#14PaulBC), Giordano Bruno Space Telescope. (#8 woodsong), t Watcher of the Skies (#46 Rob Grigjanis) and, of course, Mirrory McMirrorface. (Also Rob Grigjanis.)

    My own suggestions there included the Divine Space telescope after Stellar and Planetary Astrophysicist Neil Divine (https://astrobites.org/2019/07/05/queer-figures-in-astronomy-history/ ) or Urania after the ancient Muse of Astronomy or the acronym Whopping Hexagonal Large Astronomical metaphorically Eagle-eyed space telescope or WHALE. Especially apt for looking at the constellation of Cetus! (https://www.constellation-guide.com/constellation-list/cetus-constellation/ )

  11. John Morales says

    It’s not that I don’t have a vague grasp of the semiotic significance there, but really, unless one knows the actual facts of the matter, it’s just a label.

    (What proportion of the public knows the source of the name?)

    StevoR, can’t resist.

    @ ^ DonDueed : I see what you’ve done there!

    You’ve put your finger on it, then. Well done!

  12. John Morales says

    I think I might have mentioned it before here, but I reckon it should be called the 2021 Space Telescope, that being both unambiguous and descriptive.

    And a lot shorter.

  13. tacitus says

    I wrote this in a comment here once before, but I would still like to see NASA name something after one of the underappreciated woman astronomers who made valuable contributions to the science in the early 20th century,

    Not the early 20th century, but Vera Rubin had to battle sexism throughout her college education and early career as an astronomer in the 50s and 60s, and has been recognized in the renaming of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) to the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, which will see first light next year in Chile.

    It will scan the entire southern skies every three nights for the next 10 years and while it’s not as headline grabbing as JWST it’s just a key in helping improve our understanding of the Universe.

    It’s not funded by NASA but by the NSF, so the funding still ultimately comes from the same source, the US taxpayers.

  14. jd142 says

    I’ve always wondered if calling it the Joust Telescope would work. JWST looks like it should be pronounced ‘joust.’ But that could be the sort of thing that satisfies no one and doesn’t actually address the problem.

    They could always pick a theme like we have for moons, but skip the religions. Rivers for long term exploration, mountains for telescopes, volcanoes for short term exploration, that sort of thing.

  15. gjm11 says

    Reuters, 2036-05-03 —

    NASA is reporting that despite the successful launch of its latest space telescope, named after two pioneering women in astronomy, its engineers have been unable to establish contact with the telescope or even to locate it. “It’s very strange,” said Hugh Dongle, a NASA spokesman. “We’ve put all our best men on it, but they have been completely unable to find the thing. We know it’s out there somewhere.”

  16. brightmoon says

    @14 Cannon Leavitt Infrared Telescope . @15 Putting your finger on it 😂 that would be perfect . Jokes aside those 2 need a telescope named for them and it would be a lot more appropriate than for this guy JW

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