Keep Watching the Skies!: The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dawn of the Space Age


Creator: McCray, Patrick (W. Patrick)


Date: 2008


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History of Operation Moonwatch, a volunteer observer program established after the launch of the artificial satellite Sputnik in 1957 by Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to collect observations as artificial satellites orbited above, to provide data about the ionosphere and upper atmosphere. Conceived by SAO director Fred Whipple as a manual backup to automated cameras, the project engaged a wide array of amateurs in the new space frontier until it ended in 1975.


  • Whipple, Fred Lawrence 1906-
  • Operation Moonwatch
  • Satellite Tracking Program
  • Moonwatch Program
  • Sputnik
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


Smithsonian History Bibliography

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Satellites
  • Equipment
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Astronomical instruments
  • Telescopes
  • Volunteers
  • Astronomy
  • Research--Equipment and supplies



Physical description

Number of pages : 324; Page numbers : 1-324

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