sci21002 — Announcement

Informing the community about JWST capabilities: the JWebbinars

20 May 2021

Tim Rawle

Six months before its launch, excitement is building around the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). After blast-off, there will be another six months of spacecraft and instrument commissioning before the first cycle of JWST science observations finally commences. Therefore, the first science data will be received less than a year from now.

With the recent selection of the Cycle 1 General Observer (GO) program, we know precisely what the new observatory will target during its first year of operation. It is now time to turn our attention to ensuring that we are ready to exploit all of this amazing new imaging and spectroscopy. And with a large number of Cycle 1 observations having no exclusive access period (including an eclectic mix of science from DD-ERS, GO and GTO programmes), it is more important than ever that the whole astronomical community is prepared for science with JWST.

To that end, STScI, in collaboration with the ESA Office in Baltimore, is hosting a series of JWebbinars to demonstrate to astronomers how to extract the highest quality results from JWST data. The series is aiming for broad appeal to a wide range of prospective users, from students just starting out in data analysis to experienced Hubble Space Telescope observers. As the JWST data analysis ecosystem is based on Python, it is expected that participants will be familiar with basic Python coding and the Jupyter notebook interface. However, an innovative virtual teaching environment will be employed by STScI, so that registrants are not required to install any software prior to attending the event, whilst still providing a hands-on experience.

Each 2–3-hour JWebbinar session is led by experts from STScI and the JWST community. Registered participants are given a hands-on tour through structured exercises, demonstrating how to use the common data analysis tools for all types of JWST observations. In the interests of maximising lecturer interaction, live sessions are limited to approximately 40 participants. For those unable to attend the sessions, or for participants craving a refresher later on, all material will also be made publicly available, including presentation slides, example Jupyter notebooks and recordings of the live events. Keep an eye on the dedicated website  for related announcements.

A new JWebbinar will be presented approximately every two weeks, with the most popular topics repeated multiple times. The first JWebbinar, in late April, was a resounding success, with more than 100 participants in three separate sessions, introduced to the JWST data processing pipeline and products. A deliberate shift in scheduled start time for each separate session helped to maximise global inclusivity, with a third of attendees being from Europe and many from Asian and South American institutes, as well as a geographic spread in US participation. Feedback from attendees of the first JWebbinar was very positive, and the organisers are working hard to ensure subsequent events maintain the high standard and level of satisfaction.

Registration for the second JWebbinar, an introduction to the JWST Data Analysis Tools, is already complete, with three separate sessions scheduled for mid-May. Following on from that, in June there will be two in-depth JWebbinar events concentrating on the data processing pipeline steps specific for Imaging and Spectroscopic mode data respectively. Registration is open and interest is expected to be high, so sign up now to avoid disappointment.

Further details, including future topics and an FAQ addressing Python requirements and use of online material, can be found on the STScI JWebbinar page.


Tim Rawle
ESA/JWST Instrument Scientist
STScI Baltimore, USA

About the Announcement



Image of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope from March 2020.
Image of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope from March 2020.

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