The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has already given us a glimpse of what may be the most distant galaxy ever discovered, and it still has about 20 years of deep space observations left. There is no telling what groundbreaking and breathtaking images of stellar nurseries, galaxy collisions and dying stars its infrared cameras will beam back to Earth during this time. And considering everything we’ve seen so far, you won’t want to miss them.
With the right know-how, you can send the latest JWST images straight to your phone and inbox, or whatever device you choose, because setting up these alerts is a lot easier than checking a bunch of websites whenever you remember.
Enable Instagram Notifications
As one of the most popular social media apps focused purely on photo and video sharing, Instagram is a natural starting point for anyone hoping to keep tabs on what we’ve seen across the cosmos. Specifically, you can get updates directly from the telescope’s social media account by following @nasawebb. Once you press that blue button, you will have an option to receive alerts: just press the bell icon in the top right corner and choose the types of messages you want to be notified about. Posts? Stories? Reels? Videos? Of course, take everything. Just make sure that notifications are enabled on your phone (Settings > instagram > Notice > Allow notifications on iOS; Settings > Notice > App settings > instagram > All Instagram Notifications on Android).
[Related: The best hidden Instagram tricks]
Follow the JWST Flickr page
Like Instagram, but giving off “older sibling” vibes, Flickr is a useful place to find and download high-quality images of anything the JWST sees. Once on Flickr, go to NASA James Webb Space Telescope Official Page and hit it Follow button. From there, set up to receive email alerts whenever they’re posted by clicking on your profile avatar in the top right and navigating to Settings. From there choose Emails and Notifications and decide how often you want to receive emails about recent uploads from the accounts you follow (immediately, once a day, or once a week).
If you follow a number of Flickr accounts and are worried about notifications flooding your inbox, you can simply check the box that says Only friends and family please. You will of course have to say that the JWST is a friend, which is not necessarily the worst thing. To do this, go to the Flickr profile of the space telescope, click on the three dots next to the “next” box and mark it as a Friend Where Family-or both.
Although RSS feeds are no longer popular with the new generation of Internet users, these classic tools are still a great way to stay up to date. Our favorite space photo streams are:
- James Webb Space Telescope: This is the official JWST blog feed – you’ll receive three posts each week with the latest updates on telescope operations and discoveries. Be sure to choose the stream with the blogs.nasa.gov address.
- NASA image of the day: The space agency’s chosen image won’t always come from the JWST, but it’s always a good way to stay up to date with the photos they share.
- NASA Photojournal: Spacecraft and Telescopes Gallery Images: This feed shares images from all of NASA’s spacecraft and telescopes, in case you want to see all the ways the agency peers into the universe.
To follow these feeds, go to your favorite RSS reader (if you’re new to this technology, we’ve got a guide to RSS apps that can help you choose), find these accounts, and click follow.
Sign up for the Space Telescope Science Institute newsletter
If you are interested in the details of the science studied by the JWST, the Space Telescope Science Institute has a newsletter for exactly that. The institute plays a central role in planning observations and analyzing results, so it can gain insight into telescope operations and images that you won’t find anywhere else. To register, scroll down from the institute homepage, enter your email in the E-mail address box, and press Subscribe.
[Related: 4 ways to keep newsletters from destroying your inbox]
Configure automated alerts
Any Google user can set up Google Alerts which will send updates on specific topics straight to their inbox. Head to the Google Alerts page, make sure you’re signed in to your account and enter keywords related to the topic you’re looking for. Following the theme of this story, you might want to try the “James Webb Space Telescope Photos” or “JWST Image”. Then configure how often you want to receive updates under the Show options tab, and press Create an alert. Google will start sending you regular news digests and other recently published pages containing the keywords you specified.
You can fine-tune your alerts at any time, and if you want more tips, we have a dedicated guide to Google Alerts.