Image of the Museum's entry gallery from the second floor. A rainbow can be seen outside.

Happy Holidays, Air and Space Style

At the National Air and Space Museum, we hope your holidays are out of this world.

To help you celebrate, we've put together this list of holiday history and activities to add a celestial-spin to your December.

Hanukkah

Did you know?

In December 1993, astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman celebrated Hanukkah on board Space Shuttle Endeavour with a dreidel and a small traveling Menorah he brought with him on STS-61.

Hoffman travelled on the Space Shuttle five times, logging over 1,211 hours and 21.5 million miles in space.

Watch Hoffman Spin a Dreidel in Space

Holiday Socks, in Space

Astronaut Jessica Meir posted this photo with the message "Happy Hanukkah to all those who celebrate it on Earth!"

Meir, together with Christina Koch, were the first women to participate in an all-female spacewalk.

More about women in Aerospace History

Winter Solstice

Confused about what a solstice is and what causes it? The National Air and Space Museum is here to help explain the celestial term.

What causes the solstice?

Confused about what causes the solstice?
Our educators are here to help in this short video.
You can learn more by exploring the night's sky, guided by our astronomy learning kit.

Our Astronomy Learning Guide
 

 

Celebrate the solstice by listening to an album unlike any other. 

 

Under Ancient Skies is a collaboration between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and Grammy Award-winning musician and producer Diplo, with words by the museum, music from Diplo’s album MMXX, and narration by Hrishikesh Hirway. This album explores how our understanding of the cosmos has changed (and remained the same) over space and time, as cultures across the world are connected under the same skies.

Listen:
YouTube Spotify AppleMusic  Pandora Google Play More Music Services

The Great Conjunction

This year's solstice holds something special: a Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter! This conjunction, which peaks on December 21, is the first time these two planets will have appeared this close together and visible from Earth since the year 1226 C.E.! 

Discover How to View the Great Conjunction

Christmas

The Best Way to Spread Holiday Cheer

Is Playing Loud for All to Hear

The United States Airforce Band has surprised visitors with a Christmas-themed flash mob. Relive the surprise with this recording of the flash mob at our National Mall location. 

Then Watch the Flash Mob at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

"Please be informed there is a Santa Claus."

Astronaut Jim Lovell sent this important message to Houston on Christmas morning, 1968.

Captain Lovell, along with Commander Frank Borman, were in space as part of Apollo 8. The 1968 mission was the first manned mission beyond earth orbit and the first mission to the moon, launching December 21, orbiting the moon on Christmas Eve (December 24), and returning to Earth for a December 27 splashdown.

When Captain Lovell sent this very important communication to Earth, CAPCOM Ken Mattingly replied “That’s affirmative. You are the best ones to know.”

Apollo 8 was the first human mission to the Moon, and its crew were the first people to see the far side with their own eyes. The mission’s dramatic highlights included a live Christmas Eve broadcast during which the astronauts read verses from the Book of Genesis in lunar orbit, and the iconic Earthrise photo, which stunned the world with the beauty and isolation of our home in the cosmos.

The National Air and Space Museum's The Spirit of Apollo event, filmed at Washington National Cathedral, celebrates that moment of unity and the spiritual meaning of exploration embodied by the first flight to the Moon.

Featuring: - Capt. James A Lovell, NASA astronaut (Apollo 8, Apollo 13, Gemini 7, Gemini 12) - The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church - Ellen R. Stofan, John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum - Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator - The Very Rev. Randy Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral

Celebrating the Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcast

Spirit of Apollo

Relive this special night at Washington National Cathedral honoring the iconic Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcast from space with astronaut Jim Lovell and other special guests. 

Watch Now

“Is this Santa Claus?”

That wasn't the question Colonel Harry Shoup, the Director of Operations at Continental Air Defense Command was expecting when he picked up his phone.

Initially he responded gruffly, "There may be a guy called Santa Claus, at the North Pole, but he’s not the one I worry about coming from that direction." After all, there was a Cold War on. 

But Shoup's reply didn't put an end to it. Discover how one phone call helped lead to a beloved holiday tradition. 

New Year's Eve

When do you ring in New Year on the International Space Station?

In 2020, the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) includes astronauts from the United States, Japan, and Russia. So how do you decide when to celebrate. 

The decision is actually easy: time on the ISS follows Greenwich Mean Time, meaning the astronauts will technically ring in the new year as people in London, Reykjavik, and Dakar.

Follow Along as Victor Glover Shares His Experience on the ISS

Apollo 50: Go for the Moon unfolded on the face of the Washington Monument in a stunning projection show. Go for the Moon was commissioned by the National Air and Space Museum, created by 59 Productions, and made possible by the generous support of Boeing with additional support from Raytheon.

Start the New Year Right

If you start this video exactly at 11:54:30 on New Year's Eve, the Saturn V rocket will launch into 2020 at exactly midnight.

Watch Now

Hands On Activities

Create space inspired ornaments and decorations by following these easy instructions.

A red star made out of a pipe cleaner

Star-Shaped Pipe Cleaner Ornaments

A red sphere made of string

Planet Ornaments from String

A plane shaped decoration made from a clothespin

Airplane Ornaments from Clothespins

A miniature version of the Hubble Telescope made out of a toilet paper roll.

Hubble Space Telescope Ornament

A comets shaped ornament made out of a silver shiny substance.

Comet Ornament

A spherical ornament representing the galaxy.

Galaxy Ornament

Pro-Tip

If you have access to a 3D printer, you can add a the Space Shuttle Discovery or Command Module 11 to your holiday decor. 

Explore Our 3D Collections
More Online Activities for You

Air and Space, Anywhere

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