Oh, the things you’ll buy (at auction)

Bonham’s Auction House concluded their Space and Aviation sale on Monday. Hundreds of amazing pieces of ephemera from the US, Europe, and Russia were on the block, and my oh my did I want them all! I usually attend auctions with a very distant interest, only looking and studying the items with a broad interest in book-selling and trading. This time, however, the space collection spoke to my personal interests, and I’m not ashamed to say that drooling was hard to avoid.

Here are some highlights from the items that were sold. Some surprising, some predictable–all enviable. Thanks to Bonham’s for hosting and thanks to Space History Specialist Cassandra Hatton for an amazing and informative catalogue!

[To enlarge or learn more about an item/lot, clicking on the image will take you to the full Bonham’s listing.]








Right now it’s good to be a museum or institution of learning, as long as you love science and have a REALLY big storeroom. Today the Air and Space Magazine of the Smithsonian announced that the National Air and Space Museum is de-accessioning quite a few items from their collection, with the caveat that the items are “permanently transferred to organizations who will maintain them in the public domain.” Items range from small buttons, belts, and pairs of gloves to flight suits, engine parts, whole engines, and plane wings. Such an amazing array of ephemera from our National space adventures, ripe for the picking!

Museum curators, educators, and space enthusiasts, drool away! Here are just a few of the over 300 items listed!

All photos courtesy of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s de-accession/transfer list. To be considered for permanent object transfer, please visit their site for form requirements and where to send them.

Getting all dolled-up for space

Nasa History Office’s Twitter feed (@NASAhistory) posted this amazing photo today. It’s those quiet moments, those you only see in candid photos like this one, that really make the magnitude of space travel sincerely personal and real.

“@NASAhistory: #behindthescenes Before he could blast off in Friendship 7, John Glenn layered up as he donned his spacesuit”

Courtesy of NASA, and the NASAhistory twitter feed.
Courtesy of NASA, and the NASAhistory twitter feed.


JPL: More amazing by the day.

[Image: Curiosity reveals its Morse code, courtesy of NASA].
Turns out the Mars Curiosity Rover (and its creators/ maintainers) are even more awesome than we thought:

From a JPL press release:

“Careful inspection of the tracks reveals a unique, repeating pattern, which the rover can use as a visual reference to drive more accurately in barren terrain. The pattern is Morse code for JPL, the abbreviation for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where the rover was designed and built, and the mission is managed.”


I am star parts.

And so are you.

NASA astronaut Don Pettit recently uploaded a gallery of photos to the Johnson Space Center’s Flickr page. Pettit on how he captured these amazing images:

“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, the ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”


–From Retina: “Retina is your destination for the best visuals from the pages of Smithsonian and around the web. Ryan Reed, the magazine’s multimedia producer, is your curator.”