Earth Science & Astronomy

Earth Science Astronomy

Introductory astronomy was not generally taught in mid-twentieth century American high schools, but programs to widen children's familiarity with the subject expanded in the post-Sputnik years. Those interested in various properties of the earth—geologists, geophysicists, meteorologists, paleontologists—joined with astronomers to create a new course of study called "earth science." Textbooks in this area incorporated observations from space as well as from earth.

Spitz Planetarium, 1960

Craftsmen have made mechanical models of the motion of planets from ancient times. In the 1920s, the German firm of Carl Zeiss began manufacturing planetariums with optical projectors that produced images of the stars and planets on a domed ceiling. Armand Spitz introduced the first successful American-made optical projection planetarium in 1947. It was inexpensive enough to be purchased by many communities. Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland, bought this example for $6, 000. It was used to teach students from elementary school through college.

Moon Globe, 1963

Space exploration greatly increased human knowledge of the moon and the planets. Instrument makers strove to incorporate the new knowledge in their products. On October 4, 1959, two years after the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Union sent up the Luna 3 spacecraft, which photographed the unknown back side of the moon. The United States soon followed. In 1963, the Adler Planetarium and Astronomical Museum in Chicago, working with Replogle Globes, Inc., issued this moon globe. Large regions of the back are blank, as they had not yet been clearly seen. The metal sphere was 6 inches in diameter and cost $2.95. Advertising copy claimed that the globe was of great educational value and would make a fine gift for anyone interested in the space age.

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