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Free public lecture by James Webb Space Telescope leading scientist

27 March 2023

John Mather, senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will present the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Endowed Lectureship in Astronomy and Astrophysics at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, in 100 Thomas Building on Penn State’s University Park campus. 

John C. Mather, senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA
John C. Mather, senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope. Credit: NASA

The JWST, launched in December 2021, is the largest telescope in space and was designed to allow astronomers to peer farther into space and glimpse close to the beginning of the universe. Its first high-resolution infrared images of deep space have captured imaginations well beyond professional astronomers. Mather, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006, will describe the design and construction of the James Webb Space Telescope, and review some of its scientific achievements during its first year of operation.  
In addition to the public talk, the community is welcome to come early and stay late for a larger event between 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. There will be a meet and greet with Mather, and he will be signing his book, “The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe.” Penn State Eberly College of Science researchers will present additional mini talks about the JWST and other space science. Branded NASA materials will also be available for attendees to take home.
Mather is a senior astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland. He received a bachelor's degree in physics from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania as well as a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley. Mather's research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. During the 1970s to 90s, Mather was a leader of NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE), making discoveries about the birth of the universe that won a Nobel Prize.

This presentation is hosted by the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is funded largely by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Mr. Friedman is a member of the department's board of visitors. The free, public lecture series was founded in 1998 and is returning to campus after a three-year COVID-19 hiatus. Past talks are listed at