Read at www.theguardian.com
Space telescopes like Hubble and the upcoming James Webb space telescope are located in space, not to get closer to the objects they're observing, but to get a clearer view. These telescopes avoid atmospheric effects like cloud, haze, and twinkling stars that can distort images taken from Earth. The idea of launching telescopes into space was first suggested in 1946 by American physicist Lyman Spitzer. The Hubble space telescope has been instrumental in capturing stunning images of outer space, and its successor, the James Webb space telescope, is expected to do the same with even greater precision and detail.
The JWST, for example, is about 930,000 miles (1.5m kilometres) away -- approximately four times as far as the moon and far enough that radio signals sent from Earth, travelling at the speed of light, take about five seconds to reach it.
The main advantage of space telescopes is their ability to avoid atmospheric effects that can degrade the quality of images taken from Earth. Stars twinkle because of atmospheric turbulence, which constantly jiggles the rays of starlight and prevents telescopes on Earth from producing perfectly sharp images. Launching telescopes into space eliminates this issue and allows for sharper and more detailed observations of outer space. By avoiding atmospheric effects, space telescopes like Hubble and James Webb can capture stunning astrophotography of galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters that are hundreds of millions or billions of light years away.
They're called space telescopes not just because they observe space, but because they're located in space.
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