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Behind the Scenes

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Thu, January 26 2017

Hidden Figures and Human Computers

The breakout movie Hidden Figures tells the story of three African American women who worked as mathematicians at NASA. The story sheds light on the significant contributions of the three women—Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—but also the broader impact that women had behind the scenes at NASA. Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson all began their careers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)—which later became NASA—working as “computers.” Computers were not what we think of them today. They were people, primarily women, who reduced or analyzed data using mechanical calculators—we’ve previously explored the role of computers in astronomy.

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Human Computers
Wed, January 25 2017

Photographing Aircraft in the Museum

As a photographer at the Museum, my job is to make our artifacts stand out in images. This can be a challenge with the type of lighting in our galleries and the limited amount of time I have to shoot before the Museum opens. Over the years, however, I’ve found ways to optimize the lighting and my time to achieve my goals.

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C.202 Folgore
Thu, January 19 2017

Remembering A Hero for the Ages

Captain Eugene Andrew Cernan died Monday, surrounded by his family in Houston, Texas. He was 82 years old. For more than half his life, he was known as the Last Man on the Moon, but he was also a devoted father and husband, a naval aviator and advocate, and a great friend to many. He remains a hero for the ages.

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Gen. Dailey and Capt. Cernan
Tue, January 17 2017

Tips for Visiting During Inauguration

Are you planning on visiting the Museum on Inauguration Day? If so, here are a few tips for your visit on Friday, January 20.

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B-36 Aircraft Fly Over Truman's 1949 Inauguration
Tue, January 17 2017

Remembering Capt. Eugene Cernan

“Gene” Cernan will always be remembered as the “last man on the Moon”—at least until the next person walks there. As commander of Apollo 17, the final expedition of that program, he spent three days on the Moon with Harrison “Jack” Schmitt. Yet that is not all he accomplished in a storied astronaut career.

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Gene Cernan in Flight during the Apollo 17 Mission
Thu, January 12 2017

Astronomy Clubs Offer Telescope Clinics

At the Observatory, we often get the question “What telescope should I buy?” But once you have one, what do you do with it? Maybe it’s still in the box, perhaps you found it frustrating to use, or maybe you’re ready to hunt for more advanced targets. If that sounds like you, it’s time to go to a telescope clinic!

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Evening Observations
Wed, January 4 2017

Examining the SLS Rocket with Astronaut Christina Koch

NASA is building a brand new rocket for the future of human spaceflight. Astronaut Christina Koch, who graduated from NASA’s astronaut training program in 2015, helps us examine the Space Launch System rocket in more detail. 

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SLS Rocket
Mon, January 2 2017

Presidential Briefings from 1960-70s Spotlight Soviet Missile and Space Programs

After decades of unsuccessful attempts to gain access, the public is now finally able to review the President’s Daily Briefs (PDBs) from the Kennedy through Ford administrations. The collection was released in 2015 and 2016 and sheds lights on the intelligence and analysis the presidents received at the time. They are posted on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) website and are available to anyone to read. 

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Soviet Air Defense Map
Sat, December 31 2016

A Year in Review - 2016 at the National Air and Space Museum

As 2016 draws to a close, we take a look back at the highs and lows of the year. It was a busy year for the Museum with the opening of new exhibitions and celebrating our 40th anniversary. Most importantly, we were glad we could share the year with you, our fellow aerospace enthusiasts. Did you have a favorite moment from 2016? Let us know @airandspace.

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Juno Mission to Jupiter
Fri, December 30 2016

Capturing the Essence of Astronomer Vera Rubin

News of Vera Rubin's passing on December 25 this year, in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 88, both saddened and relieved many of us at the Museum. She had suffered from dementia for a number of years, and there was sadness in her life, the loss of her husband Robert in 2008 and then of her daughter Judith in 2014.  But there was also great joy, and she had a knack for sharing that joy with all who came in contact with her. She shared the joy of her four children, all PhD scholars in science and mathematics. She also shared the joy of collaboration, not the least of which with astronomer W. Kent Ford, the ingenious instrument designer who developed a spectrograph that was made vastly more powerful with a new optical amplifier called the Carnegie Image Tube. 

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Astronomer Vera Rubin

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