James Webb Space Telescope: Why The Name Of This Telescope Is James Webb?

An editorial published in Scientific American in March 2021 by four scientists cites Johnson’s book "The Lavender Scare" as one source showing links that Webb had to anti-LGBTQ policies

The authors call Webb “a man whose legacy at best is complicated and at worst reflects complicity in homophobic discrimination in the federal government.”

Chanda Prescod Weinstein, assistant professor of Physics at the University of New Hampshire and one of the editors of Scientific American's editorial, called this week's release of images from the telescope "bittersweet."

On Monday, she tweeted that she was so happy about the new images but mad at NASA HQ. 

"NASA leadership stubbornly refuses to admit that what is now publicly known about Webb's legacy means he doesn't merit having a Great Observatory named for him."

Prescod Weinstein, an astronomer who led the effort to rename the telescope's name, created a petition last spring with other scientists. More than 1,700 people signed the petition.

Most of them work in astronomy, "a related field" or astronomy. NASA is asked to "bestow this honour upon someone whose legacy befits a telescope whose data will also be used in discoveries that inspire future generations."

Just Space Alliance published a documentary of 40 minutes detailing Webb's involvement with anti-LGBTQ policies ahead of the release of the telescope images this week.

Brian Nord, an astrophysicist, said that NASA had made it more difficult for everyone by not wanting to have a transparent and open discussion about the issue. 

He also mentioned how NASA did not want to name the telescope and what he thought the name of telescopes should be.

The agency had internal documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request. These documents were published in March by Nature. 

They revealed that the agency knew of an appeals ruling regarding a NASA employee who was fired because his superiors believed he was gay. Webb was the head of the agency in 1963.

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