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Astronomers are getting the best Christmas gift in a very long time – the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is headed to the launchpad on Christmas morning, set to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

“With JWST and its rocket securely on the pad, the team will run electrical diagnostics to ensure all lights are green for launch,” according to NASA. “Teams will power on the observatory while at the launch pad to run one final aliveness test to ensure all systems have power and are working before liftoff.”

Santa and his reindeer will be headed to the North Pole when the Ariane 5 rocket launches the JWST between 0720 ET to 0750 ET from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana. 

JWST will be catapulted to a gravitationally stable spot of about 930,000 miles from Earth, known as the Earth-sun Lagrange Point 2 (L2). From there, the complex space observatory will look deep into the universe for signs of life. It will take 30 days to reach L2, and the first images of deep space won’t be collected until next year. 

Astronomers have been waiting years for JWST’s launch — this could be the best Christmas present ever for the scientific community if all goes well during launch. 

Watch the launch live right here on the NASA live stream:


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