Moonwatch Telescope


Because scientists could not accurately predict the orbits of the new artificial satellites, volunteers were trained to scan the evening skies for new objects, and their observations, recorded on charts, were forwarded to the Moonwatch office for analysis.

Multiple Moonwatch telescopes, each with its own observer, were used at locations around the country. Each observer in a group was assigned to watch a specific area of the sky, and the telescopes were designed to make this as easy and comfortable as possible. The telescopes were usually placed on a desk or table where the observers could sit comfortably.

The Moonwatch telescopes had several unusual features. With low magnification and short length, they were designed to show an unusually large portion of the sky. The mounting of the telescope, which pointed down and viewed the sky through a mirror, prevented the observers from developing neck-aches (from looking up). The telescope also had an unusually wide eyepiece, which reduced eye fatigue.

The Moonwatch program only lasted for a few years, but the contributions of its many amateur observers were important in the early days of space exploration.

Ref: Patrick McCray, Keep Watching the Skies! The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age (Princeton, 2008).

Date Made: ca 1956

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences, Sputnik, Science & Mathematics


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2007.0038.01Catalog Number: 2007.0038.01Accession Number: 2007.0038

Object Name: telescope

Measurements: overall: 38.5 cm x 30.5 cm x 12 cm; 15 3/16 in x 12 in x 4 3/4 inoverall: 15 in x 12 in x 4 1/2 in; 38.1 cm x 30.48 cm x 11.43 cm


Record Id: nmah_1321431

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