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NASA lands at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

Photo of NASA exhibit in Scottsdale Museum of the West
Observing With NASA offers cutting-edge telescope technology in Scottsdale. (File Photos/
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is now offering Observing With NASA, an educational exhibit kiosk from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory providing fun and activities for the whole family by engaging visitors in the art and science of NASA imagery.

Arizona’s own former NASA Astronaut Sen. Mark Kelly experienced the Museum of the West’s new OWN kiosk.

“Thanks to the collaboration between NASA and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, kids and their families will be able to take part in hands-on experiences that will hopefully inspire the next generation of space explorers and continue Arizona’s legacy in our country’s space program,” he said in a prepared statement.

On display at Western Spirit, which is a Smithsonian Affiliate, through Aug. 31, OWN offers an introduction to the tools, data, and skills that NASA space scientists and data visualization experts use to create the images of deep space objects that we are all familiar with.

The OWN kiosk features a range of NASA’s most iconic images to explore and opportunities for visitors to put their own artistic spin on these images through image analysis and processing, according to a press release.

Those images can then be emailed directly to their personal devices for further study and as keepsakes.

“The launch of the James Webb telescope has created a new appreciation and enthusiasm for the beauty and wonder of the universe. We are proud to be one of the first 10 selected to host this interactive kiosk that will give our visitors an authentic data experience with astronomical imaging.”

— James Burns, executive director, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West.

The OWN kiosk at Western Spirit is found a part of the Paul Calle’s Life of Exploration: From the Mountains to the Moon exhibition, which has been extended through Nov. 27. The exhibition traces the career of this American painter, including his works as an official NASA artist.

On July 16, 1969, Mr. Calle (1928-2010) was the only artist present during the pre-launch activities of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, sketching various scenes, including breakfast, suiting up and the walk-out to the spacecraft. The exhibition features a strong selection of Mr. Calle’s sketches and paintings.

Among these is “The Great Moment” — a striking oil painting depicting Neil Armstrong’s first step on the surface of the moon.

The first of five

Specifically, the first five activities of the OWN kiosk draw on NASA data. The sixth allows visitors to become amateur astrophotographers and explore the universe with a robotic telescope. Other “out-of-this-world” games and puzzles encourage visitors to create astropoetry and make pictures from pixels.

Find the Apollo Site. Challenge yourself to seek out small details in hi-res images of the moon and locate the landing sites of Apollo 11 to Apollo 17. Can you find them all?

Create your own masterpiece

With image processing tools, visitors can colorize and enhance images of the sun, moon, the planet Jupiter and the Whirlpool Galaxy to bring out details, just as scientists do, as well as putting their own artistic spin on these images.

  • Animate Images Over Time. Observe the rotations of the sun and Jupiter. Note the Great Red Spot on Jupiter as it passes in and out of view. See Jupiter’s moons as they orbit the giant planet.
  • What’s Red + Green + Blue? Combine three separate images — one taken with a red filter, one with blue, one with green to represent the actual range of colors emitted by objects in space.
  • Reveal an Image Using “Invisible Light.” Add light from beyond the visible spectrum — ultraviolet and infrared — to reveal objects in space that are hidden from the naked eye.
  • Explore the Universe with A Robotic Telescope. Visitors can target celestial objects, choose exposure times, color filters, etc., and send these remote commands to telescopes located around the world.
  • These telescopes will photograph the selected objects and send images to viewers’ devices where they can be processed further and enjoyed.
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