Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Visiting the Udvar Hazy

A few weeks ago, Hubs and I made a trip to Virginia to see family. While we were there, we visited the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport, in Chantilly, Virginia. With thousands of items on view, this museum is an amazing place; we easily could have spent days exploring it. From aviation's earliest (and shockingly flimsy-looking) aircraft to modern space flight vehicles, from a propeller fragment from a Wright Bros. biplane to astronauts' clothing, toiletries and magnetized gameboards, the Udvar Hazy has it all.

Among the many things we saw in our short visit, here were just a few of my favorites:

The space shuttle Discovery is an awesome sight as you approach it

These beautiful, sparkly "umbrellas" are actually part of a satellite system.
It may look menacing, but this aircraft is used only for surveillance.
Recognize this? It's the "spacecraft" from the current hit film Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway
The "mother ship" used in the '70s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
A side note: the Close Encounters "mother ship" is a study in fantasy as well as tongue-in-cheek humor. Its designers included a number of improbable items on the mother ship's highly complex exterior shell, all well camouflaged to blend in with its surface features. Look very, very closely and you might spy a mailbox, a VW bus, and a cemetery plot along with other commonplace things that are very much a part of life here on Earth.

As an artist, I've always been inspired by photos of outer space -- the dazzling beauty of nebulas, the planets, the Milky Way and of course views of Earth taken from manned spacecraft. Visiting the Udvar Hazy allowed me to see the technological side of space exploration. It gave me an even greater appreciation for the vision and courage of the men and women who are its pioneers. It was a wonderfully informative experience. Thanks to Udvar Hazy, I'll never look up at the stars in quite the same way again!

Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

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