Telescope, Operation Moonwatch

Telescope, Operation Moonwatch

     

This telescope is a typical example of those used in the popular satellite tracking program called Operation Moonwatch. The design of this instrument is quite similar to telescopes sold by Edmund Scientific that were assembled from World War 2 surplus parts. The provenance of this telescope is unknown but likely came from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which managed Moonwatch. There was some question in the 1950s whether the NRL radio satellite tracking system and even optical tracking systems would be fully in place in time for the planned IGY related launches of small satellites. Operation Moonwatch was set up by the Smithsonian as a program whereby amateur astronomers would track satellites visually with small telescopes and binoculars. The observations from amateurs all over the world were collected by SAO and used to calculate the rough orbits of satellites that were useful in providing predicitons for the photographic stations.

Donor unknown

Country of Origin
United States of America

Location
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, VA
Exhibit Station
Space Science

Type
INSTRUMENTS-Scientific

Materials
Aluminum and brass, glass optics, black cylindrical eyepiece.
Dimensions
3-D: 30.5 x 12.7 x 35.6cm (12 x 5 x 14 in.)

This telescope is a typical example of those used in the popular satellite tracking program called Operation Moonwatch. The design of this instrument is quite similar to telescopes sold by Edmund Scientific that were assembled from World War 2 surplus parts. The provenance of this telescope is unknown but likely came from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which managed Moonwatch. There was some question in the 1950s whether the NRL radio satellite tracking system and even optical tracking systems would be fully in place in time for the planned IGY related launches of small satellites. Operation Moonwatch was set up by the Smithsonian as a program whereby amateur astronomers would track satellites visually with small telescopes and binoculars. The observations from amateurs all over the world were collected by SAO and used to calculate the rough orbits of satellites that were useful in providing predicitons for the photographic stations.

Donor unknown

Country of Origin
United States of America

Location
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, VA
Exhibit Station
Space Science

Type
INSTRUMENTS-Scientific

Materials
Aluminum and brass, glass optics, black cylindrical eyepiece.
Dimensions
3-D: 30.5 x 12.7 x 35.6cm (12 x 5 x 14 in.)

ID: A19860036000