Operation Moonwatch Begins

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Operation Moonwatch is launched by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Announcement of the program was made in a news conference on 11 September 1956 by Dr. Armand N. Spitz, coordinator of visual satellite observations. Operation Moonwatch was started to track the path of a satellite to be launched by the United States during the International Geophysical Year (7/1/1958-12/31/1958). Tracking was accomplished by teams of volunteers, mostly amateur astronomers.


  • Spitz, Armand
  • Operation Moonwatch
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Torch, 9/1956, p. 1
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1957, p. 8, 74

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu




  • International Geophysical Year, 1957-1958
  • Artificial satellites
  • Astrophysics
  • Geodesy
  • Volunteers
  • Astronomy

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