A NASA astronomical imaging kiosk is an unlikely bedfellow with the Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Thanks to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA, the museum has taken on a new approach to art engagement.
After wandering through the historical art exhibits such as Edward S. Curtis’ masterful portrait collection, and Paul Calle’s “From the Mountains to the Moon” exhibit of sketch to paintings, the NASA kiosk paints a new perspective.
“Paired with the artwork for Paul Calle’s famous moon landing postage stamp, the NASA kiosk welcomes guests to create their own space art,” says Dr. Michael L. Zirulnik, museum development director.
“They experience how scientists use color with telescopic images to explore the depths of our universe.”
Through August 31, “Observing with NASA,” or OWN, will offer an informal and interactive learning experience for museum visitors, education professionals and young audiences looking to learn something new.
For the first time, Arizona residents can see what astrophotography is really like. By creating a personal masterpiece of the cosmos, engaging with robotic telescope image analysis, and exploring much more of the universe from a single screen, OWN aims to spark curiosity.
“The NASA kiosk illustrates how art and science are integral in communicating exploration, while investigating new frontiers,” Zirulnik continues.
At first thought, art and space wouldn’t be connected. The OWN kiosk, however, proves it is the opposite. As Zirulnik states, art is necessary in space exploration and discovery.
OWN has six educational exercises that use real NASA data to provide a surreal interaction. Find Apollo sites 11-17 by searching for small details on the moon’s surface and reveal images by using “invisible light.” Objects, landscapes, gases and more, originally invisible to the eye, can now be seen with added light and other expansive editing software.
Observe planet rotation and animate the images over time. Use processing tools to enhance and colorize galaxies, the sun and moon, Jupiter and Mars. And combine multiple images to visualize the vibrant colors emitted by objects in space.
The last bit of the OWN kiosk is a robotic telescope. Museum visitors can remotely send commands to a real-time telescope somewhere in the world and the image will be emailed to them as soon as its able to snap a good shot of the sky. Discover celestial objects, change the color filters and exposure times to create your own unique photo.
Zirulnik is excited for this feature, saying he “couldn’t wait to get the telescope images in my inbox.”
OWN is a perfect complement to Pail Calle’s exhibit, specifically his iconic oil painting “The Great Moment,” a depiction of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon’s surface. The painting explores textures and the vast darkness that surrounded Armstrong.
“We are so happy to be given the opportunity for OWN to be in our museum. When the opportunity came up, the first thing we thought of was that big painting of the moon landing. It’s exactly what was needed to bring a modern life to the exhibit.”
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West
3830 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale