Fact Sheets

“Time and Navigation”

Exhibition Fact Sheet

April 10, 2013

Title: “Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There”

Opening April 12, National Mall building, Gallery 213

Presented in collaboration with the National Museum of American History

Sections: Navigating at Sea; Navigating in the Air; Navigating in Space; Inventing Satellite Navigation; and Navigation for Everyone.

Sponsored by: Northrop Grumman Corporation, Exelis Inc., Honeywell, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Department of Transportation, Magellan, National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation & Timing, Rockwell Collins and the Institute of Navigation

“Time and Navigation” explores how revolutions in timekeeping over three centuries have influenced how people find their way. Through artifacts dating from centuries ago to today, the exhibition traces how timekeeping and navigational technologies evolved to help navigators find their way in different modes of travel, in different eras and different environments. Methods are traced through the decades to show that of all the issues facing navigation, one challenge stands out: The need to determine accurate time.

Highlights include:

  • The earliest sea-going marine chronometer made in the United States, produced by Bostonian William Cranch Bond during the War of 1812

  • Objects collected during the U.S. Exploring Expedition commanded by Lt. Charles Wilkes, a four-year voyage that began in 1838 to map the Pacific, Antarctica and the northwest coast of America

  • Historic instruments, including a mariner’s astrolabe, dating from 1602; a Ramsden sextant and his dividing engine; several chronometers; and models of clocks designed by Galileo

  • The Winnie Mae, the airplane Wiley Post flew in his record-breaking flights around the world in 1931 and 1933

  • The sextant Charles Lindbergh used to learn celestial navigation, and a clock used by him during his milestone transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis

  • Timing equipment from the Deep Space Network of NASA ground stations used to navigate missions to other planets

  • A flight spare (duplicate spacecraft) of Mariner 10, the first spacecraft to reach Mercury

  • Stanley, a robotic vehicle built to drive and navigate itself

  • The NIST-7 atomic clock that served as the U.S. time standard in the 1990s

  • The navigation system from the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Alabama

  • A satellite from the Transit system used for global navigation before GPS

  • A test satellite for global navigation built at the Naval Research Laboratory

 

 

# # #

 

 

 

 

 

SI-130-2013

Media only
Isabel Lara
(202) 633-2374

Alison Mitchell
(202) 633-2376

Website
http://timeandnavigation.si.edu

 

Related photos: 

Time and Navigation - "Winnie Mae" Gallery Shot

"Winnie Mae" in the Time and Navigation Gallery

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

“Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There” opens April 12, 2013 at the National Air and Space Museum.

Image Number: WEB12824-2013

 

Time and Navigation - Apollo Sextant and Scanning Telescope

Apollo Sextant and Scanning Telescope

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

Navigating in space: to determine position in space, an Apollo astronaut located a specific star using a single-power, wide-field telescope and then took a fix using a sextant. While this instrument does not look like a traditional sextant, the basic procedure is descended from centuries-old methods used by navigators at sea and in the air.

Time and Navigation - Bond Chronometer

Bond Chronometer

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

This timekeeper was the first American-made marine timekeeper taken to sea. William Cranch Bond, a 23-year-old Boston clockmaker, crafted it during the War of 1812.

This artifact is in the National Museum of American History's collection. It will go on display in the Time and Navigation exhibition, scheduled to open at the National Air and Space Museum in 2013.

Time and Navigation - Bygrave Position-Line Slide Rule

Bygrave Position-Line Slide Rule

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

Celestial navigation requires complicated computations. Performing these calculations in cramped open cockpits with low temperatures and wind speeds of over 160 kilometers (100 miles) per hour was part of what made navigation difficult in the early years of aviation. Thankfully, Capt. L. C. Bygrave developed this handy slide rule shortly after World War I.

Time and Navigation - Dutch Pendulum Clock

Dutch Pendulum Clock

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

In order to know where you are you need an accurate clock.

Time and Navigation - Gallery Shot

Time and Navigation Gallery, National Air and Space Museum

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

“Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There” opens April 12, 2013 at the National Air and Space Museum.

Image Number: WEB12823-2013

 

Time and Navigation - Lockheed Vega 5C Winnie Mae

Time and Navigation - Lockheed Vega 5C Winnie Mae

Photo: Dane Penland, Smithsonian

Wiley Post’s Winnie Mae circled the globe two times, shattering previous records. The first time was in 1931 with Weems associate Harold Gatty as lead navigator. The second was a solo flight in 1933 assisted by “Mechanical Mike,” one of the world’s first practical autopilots.

Time and Navigation - Longines Sidereal Second-Setting watch

Time and Navigation - Longines Sidereal Second-Setting watch

Photo: Mark Avino, Smithsonian

Before 1927, watches used with sextants for celestial sightings could only be set to the minute. A watch error of 30 seconds caused a navigational error of up to 12 kilometers (7 miles). In 1927, P. V. H. Weems devised a watch with an adjustable second hand that could be set using radio time signals. This was one of his personal navigation watches.

Time and Navigation - Ramsden Sextant

Time and Navigation - Ramsden Sextant

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

Navigating at sea: this sextant was one of the navigation tools invented in the 18th century by British mathematical instrument makers that permitted mariners to find their position much better than ever before. The sextant became the most essential instrument for celestial navigation, used to find the angle of a celestial body above the horizon.

Time and Navigation - Stanley Autonomous Vehicle

Time and Navigation - Stanley Autonomous Vehicle

Photo: Stanford Racing Team

This autonomous vehicle, named Stanley, was developed by the Stanford Racing Team. Stanley is a 2005 Volkswagen Touareg modified to navigate without remote control and without a human driver in the seat.



DCSIMG