Media Kits

Time and Navigation

April 10, 2013
Related releases: 

2014 Smithsonian Online Education Conference Series Presents Four Sessions on Time and Navigation

The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access will host a free online education conference for teachers and students May 14. The conference offers four sessions on the evolution of navigation throughout the centuries and navigation’s potential impact on global trends.

Quests logo

New “Time and Navigation” Exhibit Opens April 12 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

If people want to know where they are, they need a reliable clock. It might seem surprising, but knowing the accurate time is essential for determining position. A major exhibition opening April 12, “Time and Navigation: the untold story of getting from here to there,” explores how revolutions in timekeeping over three centuries have influenced how people find their way.

Related fact sheets: 

"Time and Navigation" Exhibition Fact Sheet

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

Time and Navigation—Interactives and Website

Interactives offer visitors a more participatory experience. By engaging in role-playing activities based on solid educational content, people of all ages can simulate for a few minutes “what it’s really like” and at the same time increase their understanding of technologies now taken for granted.

“Time and Navigation” Curators

Paul E. Ceruzzi is curator of aerospace electronics and computing and chair of the Space History Department at the National Air and Space Museum. His work includes research, writing, planning exhibits, collecting artifacts and lecturing on the subjects of microelectronics, computing and control as they apply to the practice of air and space flight.

Related Staff Bios: 

John Dailey

Director, National Air and Space Museum

Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and pilot, became the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in January 2000.

John Dailey

John R. (Jack) Dailey

John Dailey

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

General John R. Dailey, Director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Related photos: 

Time and Navigation - "Winnie Mae" Gallery Shot

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

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

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

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

Photo: Eric Long, Smithsonian

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

Time and Navigation - Gallery Shot

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

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

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

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

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.

A Message from Honeywell Aerospace President and CEO Tim Mahoney94 KB
NCO Sponsor Statement for Smithsonian "Time and Navigation" Exhibition258.2 KB
Northrop Grumman - Smithsonian "Time and Navigation" Support Statement144.08 KB
Smithsonian Sponsor Letter -Magellan GPS146.9 KB
Smithsonian ION Sponsor Statement431.06 KB
Smithsonian Letter - NGA311.68 KB
Smithsonian "Time and Navigation" Statement - Rockwell Collins56.99 KB
Exelis Statement for "Time and Navigation" Exhibit187.62 KB