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The road to the beginning

  • Science and art surrounding the James Webb-telescope
Thursday 1 September 2022 - Wednesday 28 September 2022
LUMC Main Building
Albinusdreef 2
2333 ZA Leiden
Galerie LUMC
On 1 September a new exhibition about the James Webb telescope opens in the LUMC Gallery. Experience the most ambitious and advanced space telescope ever.

Prof. Dr. Ewine van Dishoeck, Professor of Astronomy at Leiden University, made her model of Webb available for Galerie LUMC as part of Leiden: European City of Science. In addition to the images of and about the telescope, Prof. Vincent Icke, Professor of Theoretical Astronomy at Leiden University and visual artist, is showing works inspired by his vision of extraterrestrial spacecraft.

James Webb Space Telescope

The Webb Space Telescope is the new flagship of ESA and NASA. It is the most advanced space telescope ever built. On Christmas Day 2021, it went into space. Now it circles the sun, just like the Earth. On 12 July 2022, the first data came in. The images made by the telescope can be admired in the LUMC Gallery after the exhibition opens. The telescope, with its infrared eyes, gives a completely new view of the Universe.

In Gallery LUMC you can go on a journey along the different objects and phenomena in the Universe on which the Webb-telescope focuses. From areas where new stars and planets are forming, to the very first galaxies formed just after the Big Bang.


Vincent Icke was inspired by the idea of galactic spaceships for this presentation. He wondered what an extraterrestrial spacecraft would look like. ‘A spaceship that can cross the Milky Way is so different from earthly rockets that it is a good source for art for that reason,’ says Icke. ‘For humans, space is more dangerous than any place on Earth. For a galactic civilisation, space is their element, just as water is for a dolphin.’ The variety of images Icke produced were based on laws from astrophysics combined with his own imagination.


Lectures: On Tuesday 6 September, Prof. Vincent Icke will give a lecture in Collegezaal 3 of the LUMC about the young Universe; on 13 September, Prof. Ewine van Dishoeck will speak at the LUMC Boerhaaveplein about astronomical observations with Webb. Both lectures start at 19:00. Questions may be asked afterwards.

Demonstrations and children's corner: On Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 14:00 to 17:00, children from the age of 5 can recreate the scale model of the telescope with Lego under the guidance of an astronomy student. On Wednesdays and Fridays from 13:00 to 16:00 hours, staff of the Leiden Observatory will give demonstrations of the scale model and answer any questions the public may have.

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