Since its opening, and until recent years, our Zeiss Model VIa optical planetarium projector has brought the wonder of the night sky to countless visitors. The Zeiss Company no longer services the over 40 year-old model, and though its stars are as sharp as ever, and its skies deep in their dramatic blackness, its celestial motors have become weary, so it has been retired in favor of an ever-improving digital projection system that offers many advantages to meet modern programming needs. The Albert Einstein Planetarium theater itself is also closing as our multi-year renovation progresses through the Museum, but it will eventually reopen as a fully digital experience. Now that we are saying good-bye to its original projector, the Zeiss Model VIa, the question is, of course, how did it get here
Today, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia will go on display at Space Center Houston, the first of four stops in the national tour Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission. This is the first time the Command Module has left the nation’s capital since 1971. If you plan to see the Module in your city—the tour will travel to St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle over the next two years—we have an excellent way to prepare. Or if you’re looking to dive into Apollo history on the comfort of your own couch, we also have you covered.
The historic importance of the Sikorsky JRS-1—a weathered blue-gray airplane now on display at our Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia—is not because of the type of airplane it is. Its importance lies in one of the places the JRS-1 has been and survived: Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Can you imagine your teacher being chosen to be a NASA astronaut? Students in Joe Acaba’s secondary math and science classes in Florida can. Acaba was one of 11 candidates selected for the 2004 astronaut class. The process to become an astronaut is one of the most competitive and highly selective processes in the world. Do you think you have what it takes?
On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse is sweeping the nation. All of North America will be able to see at least a partial eclipse, but 14 states across the U.S. will have the unique opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, called the path of totality. There are approximately 12.5 million people living in the path of totality—an occurrence that happens only once where you live every 375 years!
On the day of the eclipse, STEM in 30, a TV show we produce at the National Air and Space Museum for middle school students, will be broadcasting live from the path of totality in Liberty, Missouri, starting at 1:30 pm EST.
In this Van Dyke Brown photographic print from the from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum art collection, Jim Leisy (1950 – 2014) shows us one way to safely view a solar eclipse. On first glance we see an unidentified person wandering aimlessly in a dreamy atmosphere with a box over their head. As the title Solar Eclipse suggests, the cosmic observer is actually catching a glimpse of the fleeting phenomenon with a pinhole projector.
For the past 30 years, the Tomahawk hung from the ceiling just a few dozen feet from the German V-1 flying bomb, or “buzz bomb,” that saw action in Europe during World War II. The V-1 and the Tomahawk, variants of which are still in service in the Navy, frame an important episode in the history of missile development in the United States. The recent deinstallation of the Tomahawk provides an opportunity to recount some of the highlights of this fascinating story of technological evolution.
It’s not every day that an astronaut invites you to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to work with and film them training. But that’s exactly what Randy “Komrade” Bresnik did for the STEM in 30 team. In the following months we’ll be sharing his journey with you as he travels to the International Space Station (ISS) on Expeditions 52 and 53.
The weather is getting warmer. Summer is upon us — and that means we will have plenty of visitors eager to explore the soaring planes and spacecraft at the Museum. To make your visit more enjoyable over the July 4th holiday, here are some tips to make your experience a great one: