1730: Starshade

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The New Worlds Mission is already trying to get funding for this, but NASA sponsored their proposal, so it will be hard to catch the telescope people by surprise with it.
Title text: The New Worlds Mission is already trying to get funding for this, but NASA sponsored their proposal, so it will be hard to catch the telescope people by surprise with it.


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[Megan and Ponytail are talking.]

Megan: Space telescopes could see exoplanets better if they used free-floating opaque discs to block the stars' glare.

Megan: They thought about including one with the Webb telescope, but cut it to save money.

Ponytail: Well... does it have to be their disc?

Megan: What do you mean?

Ponytail: Like, if I Kickstart a starshade for them?

Megan: Um. Would you at least warn them?

Ponytail: Eh. Whatever.

NASA, 2018:

[Two NASA scientists are working at their desks.]

NASA scientist 1: Initiating Webb calibrat- AAAAA! What the hell is that!?

NASA scientist 2: Hey, look, exoplanets!

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I would like to note that in the last frame the microphone booms on the headsets are on the right side, rather than on the left, which would have been more common. Stackexchange discussion (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Wauw that is not important here ;-) --Kynde (talk) 12:24, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Does "kickstart" refer to Kickstarter? --JakubNarebski (talk) 14:15, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Pretty clearly, but it might be good to make that explicit, and point out that either there is no such Kickstarter project yet, or (less likely) link to the project.
FlashSheridan (talk) 14:59, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
Have mentioned this in the explanation. Not sure it is a reference to that. She does not call is kickstarter... --Kynde (talk) 19:53, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

May be related to 975: Occulting Telescope (https://xkcd.com/975/). 17:08, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Definitely worth referring too. Thanks and done. --Kynde (talk) 19:53, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

The reaction in the last panel seems rather extreme. I wonder if perhaps this was a custom starshade resembling the final image at the bottom of this page: https://what-if.xkcd.com/136/

The James Webb Telescope already has measures to shade the stars! http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/nircam.html: "NIRCam is equipped with coronagraphs, instruments that allow astronomers to take pictures of very faint objects around a central bright object, like stellar systems. NIRCam's coronagraphs work by blocking a brighter object's light, making it possible to view the dimmer object nearby - just like shielding the sun from your eyes with an upraised hand can allow you to focus on the view in front of you. With the coronagraphs, astronomers hope to determine the characteristics of planets orbiting nearby stars." - Sebastian -- 18:26, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

From a NASA report: "JWST/Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) coronagraphy should be capable of detecting companions at contrasts of 10−6 at separations beyond 1.5 arcsec, capturing objects like our own Jupiter in 4.5 μm thermal emission if they are orbiting the nearest M stars. The uncertain luminosity evolution of young giant planets clouds the picture somewhat (Marley et al. 2007), but it appears that the some of the more massive planets orbiting nearby (d < 20 pc), young (age < 1 Gyr), low-mass (M < 1.0 Msun) stars could be in view by 2024." - it talks about detecting, not imaging, objects like Jupter. - Sebastian -- 18:57, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
Included in the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 19:53, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Perhaps it should be mentioned in the article that the James Webb is a near infrared and middle infrared telescope (+ orange visible light). For good infrared images one needs high mountains or space. Nasa has an article why infrared is good for examining (the spectra of) exoplanets: http://asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/blueshift/index.php/2013/10/24/maggies-blog-why-infrared-exoplanet-edition/ - Sebastian -- 18:33, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Included in the explanation. --Kynde (talk) 19:53, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

I made it so it's not incomplete anymore. Also, the comic isn't random, because it's 2016 and it's scheduled to launch in less than two years (because 2016 is almost over). I also added a citation to the Wikipedia article for the James Webb Telescope with links to the "budget issues" revealed in the comic. I hope this clears up a few things. :) -- JayRulesXKCD (talk) 7:41, 9 September 2016 (EDT)

This comic makes sense in context of 2016 launch date. As of 2021, JWST still has not launched. See 2014: JWST Delays and 2550: Webb for further Cueball commentary on the subject. --Tlynnec (talk) 00:29, 24 December 2021 (UTC)

"Ponytail may be referring to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but it does not seem like there is any project (yet) for a Starshade for Webb (or for New Worlds Mission, see title text explanation)." I am absolutely flabbergasted that there is even a hint of a doubt expressed here, in the article, or in this discussion. This is 100%, without a doubt, unequivocably, unquestionably a reference to Kickstarter. "Kickstarter" and "Kickstart" are words that simply do not exist in the English language outside of the world of Kickstarter. The closest is where they clearly got their name, the kick starting of a motorcycle (which to the best of my knowledge is two words, or at least hyphenated). With the rising popularity of Kickstarter, people have coined the verb "Kickstart", meaning to start a Kickstarter campaign to fund the verb's object, which is how Ponytail is using it here. As for there not being such a Kickstarter project, OF COURSE THERE ISN'T! This is a comic! It's a joke! And Ponytail isn't a real person who can start one! Non-existant concepts have appeared throughout the history of XKCD! For example, the comic where Black Hat breaks into an Internet Troll's house to tell him off for being disgusting to nerd girls on the internet, he's followed by a girl with a weapon he names an EMP cannon. I seriously doubt such a portable weapon exists, yet there it is in the comic. Or the Rule 34 comic, where they started a WetRiffs website. Nobody started that, it didn't exist until Randall did afterwards for giggles because of his comic.

Doubt on this point is inappropriate, dilutes this site's credibility, and it should be removed. - NiceGuy1 06:01, 11 September 2016 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. (Wow, I'm surprised that idiotic line is still in the explanation, that nobody ever fixed it. I'm all about caution in making statements, but this is ridiculous) NiceGuy1 (talk) 10:39, 9 June 2017 (UTC)