Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The American Astronomical Society

Greeting Science Warriors,

News and efforts concerning the plight of the JWST are growing exponentially. Earthsky.org has brought recent awareness to the public. Astronomy Now Magazine is releasing a news update in this month's issue concerning the JWST. The Journal Nature has briefly discussed JWST on its website. Dr. Lawrence Krauss has advocated in the pages of The Wall Street Journal for continuing ahead with the JWST mission. NPR's Science Friday has talked about the issue over the airwaves. The Washington Post opened the subject favorably in its Sunday editorial. Northrop Grumman advocates for its creation, saying bluntly "...there is no mission planned by any other space agency that can achieve the science goals of JWST". AURA - the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy - has made a strong statement supporting the JWST and provided general resources for the public to use to gain awareness of the issue. The AAS (American Astronomical Society) is sending representatives directly to Capital Hill to discuss the JWST issue with key members of Congress. 

All this and more is happening right now because many people and organizations realize that the James Webb Space Telescope is important to the future of humanity and therefore MUST FLY. However, it all means nothing if YOU do not contact your representatives. While most of us agree that JWST represents all that is good, innovative, bold and smart in American science, members of Congress do not automatically see it that way. YOU MUST MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!

What the AAS is doing

As you may know, the American Astronomical Society has been vocal about supporting the James Webb Space Telescope during its time of crisis. Only 36 days ago, the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Commerce Justice and Science voted NOT to continue funding for the JWST while building the architecture of a larger budget bill. The AAS recognized this as a travesty and a waste, as many of us have. The JWST should fly because it represents all that is good, innovative, bold, and smart in American science. The American Astronomical Society understands this, too.

The AAS penned an informational letter addressed directly to the public. The main concern of the letter is "what can you do?" The AAS has listed many plausible avenues of action for a concerned US citizen. We suggest you take a few minutes and read through them. The most important item on the list is, basically, CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. Nothing else can do so much to guarantee that the James Webb Space Telescope launches and revolutionizes our universe.

Also addressed in the letter are the actions the AAS has been taking on behalf of JWST:

  • AAS members have gone to DC to discuss the JWST issue with congressional members now, during the August recess. 
  • In discussions with congressional members, it was noted that JWST overall project management was reorganized, the budget adjusted and the telescope on schedule for a 2018 launch date. 
  • AAS members conversed with Representative Frank Wolf of Virginia and Representative Chaka Fattah staff members, noting that the House of Representatives Committee on Commerce Science and Justice wanted the budgeting issues concerning JWST and other NASA projects to get NASA attention on certain management issues. 

What's Next? 

According to contact AAS members made with Rep. Wolf's and Rep. Fattah's staff members, it is important that 

  • NASA's "rebaselined" JWST plan be approved by the Executive Branch's Office of Management and Budget
  • The next vote will come after a Senate-House agreement on a final NASA budget where the SENATE (not House of Reps) Committee on Commerce, Justice and Science will vote on the future of the JWST
  • The AAS promises to be a leader in the fight to save JWST and will provide further updates in the near future. 
We suggest you check out the AAS website materials concerning the JWST. Review the contents of this blog for up-to-date news, important links and resources, and explanations of the science behind JWST. And as always: 

   a) Sign the Petition
   b) Like the Facebook Page
   d) Spread the Word



  1. Not sure if you guys saw this because I don't see it mentioned; I heard about this telescope issue from Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Bill Maher's show Real Time last week or the week before. Great, passionate plea.

  2. Hey Sarah. Thx for the heads up. Yea, we do know about it (actually personally watched it about ten times or more). Its featured once or twice on our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SaveJWST) and we managed to squeeze it in on our most recent blog post (http://savethistelescope.blogspot.com/2011/08/change-in-overall-price-tag-of-jwst.html)

    But thank you for looking out. And if you see anything else like that, please let us know. We are but humble volunteers and we do miss stuff.


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