“Thanks to the collaboration between NASA and Scottsdale’s Western Spirit museum, 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.” – Senator Mark Kelly

Out of more than 100 institutions that applied, Western Spirit (a Smithsonian Affiliate) is proud to be one of the first 10 to host an interactive “Observing With NASA” (OWN) kiosk through the end of August. Visitors to this touch screen kiosk will choose from a range of activities and be introduced to the tools, data, and skills that NASA scientists use to create the images of deep space objects that we know and love. Images can be emailed directly to their devices for further study, artworks and keepsakes, and to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the universe. The launch of the James Webb telescope has created a new enthusiasm for images of the universe. Earth Day reminds us to cherish the small, fragile “blue marble” we inhabit.

The Great Moment c. 1969, oil on masonite; Collection of the Orlando Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John J. McMullen. Copyright The Calle Family.

The Great Moment, c. 1969, Oil on Masonite; Collection of the Orlando Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. John J. McMullen. Copyright The Calle Family.

While you’re here, visit Paul Calle’s Life of Exploration: From the Mountains to the Moon—extended through November 27th, 2022. The exhibition traces the career of this American painter, including his works as an official NASA artist. On July 16, 1969, 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 Calle’s sketches and paintings. Among these is The Great Moment—a magnificent oil painting depicting Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon’s surface.

Western Spirit’s “OWN” kiosk is educational and filled with summer fun and activities for the whole family. The first five activities below 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 – 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, and put 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 worldwide. These telescopes will photograph the selected objects and send images to viewers’ devices, where they can be processed further and enjoyed.

Arizona has deep ties to the space program. Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration hosts the ASU/NASA Space Grant Program, the Mars Space Flight Facility, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, the Center for Meteorite Studies, the Ronald Greeley Center for Planetary Studies, and the Marston Exploration Theater.  The University of Arizona’s Arizona Space Grant Consortium is part of The National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, established by Congress in 1989. The Space Grant implements research, education, and public service projects through a national network of university-based Space Grant consortia.  Western Spirit pays tribute to these connections with our “OWN” kiosk and the Paul Calle exhibition.


Visit Western Spirit and Take Home a Star!