Behind the Scenes

Showing 241 - 250 of 299
Thu, July 28 2011

Astronomy Night at the Museum

The night opened with few clouds and a bright waxing gibbous moon. Alex and I, interns at the National Air and Space Museum, stood outside with Sean O'Brien, astronomy educator at the Museum and Albert Einstein Planetarium technician, to survey the sky and anticipate the night. This was my first star party at the Museum. As we set up, the first line of visitors formed outside the door of the Public Observatory waiting for 6 p.m. — opening time. We set up the Tele Vue telescope first. The view was spectacular. Along the terminator, the line between the dark and light sides of the Moon, craters popped between the stark white of the moon and the blue of the sky.

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Tue, July 5 2011

The Spirit of '76

When I arrived at the National Air and Space Museum, Astro, as we called our department, consisted of just four curator/subject matter specialists and two support staff, shoe-horned into the northeast tower of the Arts and Industries Building, with a splendid view of the dumpster in the parking lot of the building.

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Fri, July 1 2011

35 Years at the National Air and Space Museum

Dominick Pisano, Museum staff member since 1975, shares his memories of the move to the current Museum and the work that went into transporting the entire library. 

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Fri, June 24 2011

Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship”

Early in June, staff of the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility slowly and carefully moved the center section of the Horten H IX V3 all-wing jet fighter from storage into the restoration and preservation shop. 

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Tue, June 14 2011

The Perils of Paper Airplanes

When I trained to be an Explainer, I learned the basics: daily activities, expectations, etc. What I didn’t learn, however, was all the job hazards. Interacting with visitors and doing demonstrations sound pretty safe, right?... Not quite.

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Mon, June 6 2011

Getting "Enterprise" Ready for Prime Time

Early on the morning of March 1, 2004, a small band of preservation specialists consisting of Anne McCombs, Steve Kautner, and Ed Mautner walked into the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. ...

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Fri, May 27 2011

Another Journey for John Glenn’s Ansco Camera

Nearly 50 years ago, John Glenn purchased a camera at a drug store that served as the first astronomical experiment performed by a human in space. That three-orbit voyage for Glenn included two cameras, one the Ansco he purchased and the other a Leica supplied by NASA. The flight not only kicked off decades of orbital experiences for U.S. astronauts, but also science experiments, observations, and thousands of rolls of film and digital files created through hand-held photography. The results of those experiments and the photos taken are what people left on Earth use even today to understand human spaceflight.

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Tue, May 10 2011

Hosting America's Best Teachers

Last week the Smithsonian Institution hosted the state Teachers of the Year, who were in town for their annual visit to the White House.

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Fri, May 6 2011

Bill Chases the Hindenburg

May 6th marks the anniversary of the tragic end of the airship Hindenburg, destroyed by fire as it came in for a landing at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey, in 1937. Last year, to commemorate the anniversary, we posted the story of Anne "Cookie" Chotzinoff Grossman, who, on October 9th, 1936, spotted the Hindenburg in flight from her Connecticut schoolyard. She took off in hot pursuit along with her brother Blair, but the giant airship got away from them; Cookie and Blair trudged back to school, and Cookie was made to write “I will not follow the Hindenburg” on the blackboard a hundred times.

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Wed, March 9 2011

The Last Sikorsky JRS-1 Makes A Move to the Udvar-Hazy Center

On December 7, 1941, a US Navy squadron consisting of ten Sikorsky JRS-1 amphibious seaplanes was on station in the Hawaiian Islands. Shortly after the Japanese attack that Sunday morning, the planes were launched in an effort to locate enemy submarines and ships near Oahu. 

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