Hubble Gotchu 2

By Phil Plait | August 6, 2010 7:00 am

I’m a Craig Ferguson man, truth be told, but I have to give Jimmy Fallon major props for devoting major time to Milky J this week.

C’mon, you remember Milky J: he’s the Hubble Gotchu guy. He was on Fallon’s show again this week, but this time got some bad news: Hubble will be replaced with the bigger James Webb Space Telescope.

What ensued was simply made of win:

Ha! That was awesome! All those people in the video are actual NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center employees (or contractors; hard to tell). NASA can’t buy this kind of publicity, but here it is, handed to them for free. And I love it! It’s funny and cool, sarcastic yet has this terrific undertone of sincerity. And Holy Haleakala, the science is accurate*! I loved the part where the team shouts JWST specs at him.

And it doesn’t hurt that one of the pictures Milky J holds up at the beginning is of Supernova 1987A, which was the topic of my PhD research. Still, Hubble being replaced isn’t a bad thing; JWST will still return amazing images, and also be more sensitive than Hubble to boot. Hubble may gotchu, but JWST will hold you tight.

You can also read some cute behind the scenes notes on two blogs: Geeked on Goddard, and NASA Blueshift.

*OK, fine: Hubble wasn’t the first telescope to detect HD 209458b (not "dash b" as Milky J said). It was seen a while before the initial Hubble observations… and no telescope has actually directly pictured; it’s too close to its star. But spectra have been obtained, which is pretty cool.


Comments (34)

  1. John

    Yeah, but for any UV or blue/green optical? Webb aint gotchu. HUBBLE GOTCHU!

  2. People out our way at Goddard were giggling for days. My favorite moment in the vid: In the interview with the Webb chief astronomer, where Milky J points out that Hubble is silver. “People like silver.” Sublime!

  3. I can’t wait to get home to watch this!

  4. Stan9FOS

    WANT a NY Yankees space suit. With bling.

  5. Messier Tidy Upper


    Nice videoclip – poignant, funny, good science. :-)

    I really hope at least the HST and JWST overlap in their working lives somewhat – I’d hate to see a situation where JWST doesn’t work and HST is already gone.

    I wish they could save Hubble and hope it keeps going as long as possible.

    That said, I also hope the James Webb Space Observatory turns out to be every bit as good as predicted and more and hope for the best for them too.
    Just as long as they paint it silver natch! ūüėČ

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    For a while there, I thought the exoplanet with the comet’s tail they showed on the poster at the beginning was going to be this one :

    [HD 80606b the Icarus / Comet-orbit planet] instead. But then Spitzer gotchu that one. ūüėČ

  7. rob

    during the interview portion of the video Milky J asks:

    “do we need to see that? is that important?”


  8. Did they use actresses or were those just the two most attractive astronomers in NASA’s history . . .well of course after you Phil

  9. Messier Tidy Upper

    I’m a Craig Ferguson man, truth be told,..

    I’m a David Letterman fan myself.

    (BTW On tonights show he wished Neil Armstrong a happy 80th birthday. :-) )

    but I have to give Jimmy Fallon major props for devoting major time to Milky J this week.

    Agreed. Milky J rocks. :-)

  10. TSFrost

    “You people just don’t get it. If I met the Hubble telescope, I would try to ‘hit it’.”

    Now THAT’S obsessed! :)

  11. Awesome! Props to Fallon. I’ve never been much of a Fallon guy, but I’ll watch more from here on out. Reward science coverage in pop culture! Every little bit helps.

  12. drow

    awesome. but the JWST will have us, too. fo’ rizzle.

  13. @TSFrost: When he said that, I was thinking, “Just like John Grunsfeld!” Only he actually did hit it.

  14. Bah. Stay off my lawn.

  15. Brian

    That was — seriously good. Not just a lot of science geek humor, but they made sure to include real facts and real feelings. (Admit it, we all feel a tiny bit of what Milky J’s expressing.) Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Tribeca Mike

    Wow, factiness presented entertainingly and it appears they spent some money on it too. Hard to believe this is American television. Thanks.

  17. @Rhacodactylus
    Those are Goddard scientists all right, not actresses.

  18. That was cool. I actually work at the other end of the building from the Hubble model and from where he’s walking sadly down the ramp – I think now I might have seen them setting up some of this filming without realizing it. (They frequently do TV interviews in front of the Hubble model, so it’s not that big a deal.)

  19. ¬ęb√łnez_brigade¬Ľ

    The original segment was a bit lame, but this one was good stuff, fo’ sho’.

  20. Brian Too

    Now this is science outreach! Great stuff.

    One thing this hints at is the prestige and public profile of the HST. The public perception of Hubble is strongly positive, and Hubble itself was clearly a science win after a rocky, near disastrous start.

    We don’t know that the JWST will be as successful in either realm. Don’t get me wrong, JWST might be an out of the park home run. I certainly hope for the best.

  21. “It’s like Sammy Hagar replacing David Lee Roth”…

    Funny as all get out, but the JWST will hopefully gain a better reputation than Van Hagar.

  22. robbak

    No matter how good JWST will be, hubble was first. Lovely instrument, astigmatism and all. (We all forget that the mirror in that thing was just wrong, don’t we?)

    My prediction is that the de-orbit rocket attachment device will instead be used for a robotic repair mission, when the time comes. Or the rocket will be used to move it to a parking orbit.

  23. MW

    Hubble still has one huge advantage over JWST: JWST won’t last 20 years. It is out of range of servicing missions, and some of the instruments depend on cryogenic cooling, which consumes irreplaceable liquid helium.

    Can anyone provide some information on JWST’s expected longevity? (I hope they’ve put lots of gyros on it – these seem to fail frequently on long duration satellites.)

  24. Derek

    Hahahaha, so good.

  25. Gary Ansorge

    Wow! Glad to see someone with Rap talent took on this science subject. This is one of the most creative ways I’ve seen to popularize science for a general audience.

    Gary 7

  26. Phil

    JWST has a 5 year requirement for the mission with a 10 year goal. The limiting factor will hopefully be the fuel for the boosters to keep it in its orbit and not the gaseous helium used in the cyrocooler for the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI).

  27. Rystefn

    There’s always going to be a newer, a bigger, a better… but you just can’t take away first. First is forever.

  28. MechBill2112

    Did Mike just say “nano-Jansky”?

  29. Yep, those are indeed real JWST project folks, not actresses! :-)

    Here’s another pic of them all with Milky J:

    Also, we paid no money to have this happen. Our public affairs person, Lynn Chandler, contacted the show after the first few Hubble Gotchu segments and invited them to come visit our full-scale model in NYC for the World Science Fair, and then to come visit us at Goddard to shoot. They came on their own dime! It was a really fun day!

  30. The JWST is 6 degrees from Absolute Zero? (Just like the 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon?)

    HA! Funny. :)

  31. Gonzo

    Phil said: “…and not the gaseous helium used in the cyrocooler for the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI)”

    MIRI is actively cooled by a electro-mechanical closed loop cryogenic pump.

  32. wtf pic cool but stars are in the same spot in hubble pics


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