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Being able to view JWST from Far would be a great way to monitor it visually. Considering the large Sun-Shield which is very shiny also, I wander if it is possible to view it from far using Hubble or some other ground based telescope?

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It depends on what you mean by "view".

See a dot of light in the sky? Yes, pretty much. After all, we expect to "see" its radio beam, don't we?

Resolve even large details (heat shield, solar panel)? Pretty much no.

Hubble space telescope is of no help either. At 1500000km distance, it would have a linear resolution of about 1km.


What we can see in regard to JWST is if it loses attitude control and starts rotating. We will be able to see periodic changes of its brightness. If this happens, we can pretty much consider it broken.

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  • $\begingroup$ You would see the spinning first in radiometric tracking data $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2021 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ @fraxinus We can see the Voyagers' radio beams, but that doesn't mean we can see the Voyagers. Any idea what magnitude JWST will be when the sunshield is not providing a specular reflection? $\endgroup$
    – Roger Wood
    Dec 29, 2021 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ @RogerWood you are right, the radio beam is orders of magnitude brighter. $\endgroup$
    – fraxinus
    Dec 30, 2021 at 18:06

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