The SZDT versus the JWST

In my last post, I talked about the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and cheered as the mission controllers successfully deployed several major systems. Since then, they completed the last of the major deployments on the primary mirror. Plenty of work remains before it settles into its fancy orbit around the Sun, but JWST is now a telescope. Go science!

Also in my last post, I shared an image that I created with my own telescope on my own driveway. I’ve recently dubbed this telescope the Steve Zigler Driveway Telescope or SZDT.

At first glance, the JWST and the SZDT sure seem to be dramatically different. I mean, just look the image below in this post. Next, consider that the JWST weighs about the same as 3 or 4 SUVs, is about the size of two 18-wheelers, and is traveling at more than 1000 feet/sec beyond the orbit of the Moon. One the other hand, the SZDT weighs about 65 pounds, is almost 3 feet long, and is standing still on my driveway.

The differences don’t end there, but you might be surprised to know that there are numerous similarities between JWST and SZDT. Here are just a few that come to mind. First and foremost, both the JWST and the SZDT capture faint light from distant objects to create really cool images of the Cosmos. Both the JWST and the SZDT have optical filters and cooled electronic sensors that collect far more light than is possible with the naked eye. Both systems even have a shield to prevent extraneous light from interfering with data collection. The shield under the JWST consists of five layers of highly reflective material the size of a tennis court whereas the SZDT has three six-feet tall sections of wooden fence around it. The shield for the JWST protects the telescope from infrared light emitted by the Sun and Earth. The shield on the SZDT protects my telescope from my neighbor’s lights.

Space prevents me from going further, but maybe more later. In the meantime, I’ve included a recent image that I created with the SZDT of the Flame and Horsehead Nebulae. I love B&W photography, and that applies to astroimages too. Both objects are in the constellation Orion more than 1000 light years from us. Enjoy!

The SZDT versus the JWST

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