This project was supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian Made accessible through a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation and Photo Friends
Operation Moonwatch, also known as Project Moonwatch or simply Moonwatch, was an amateur science program initiated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in 1956. The goal was to enlist the aid of amateur astronomers who would help professional scientists spot the first artificial satellites in space. Average citizens served on Moonwatch teams around the globe. Until professionally manned optical tracking stations came on-line in 1958, this network of amateur scientists played a critical role in providing crucial information regarding the world’s first satellites. Photograph caption dated July 31, 1958 reads "Walter A. Munn, center, of Smithsonian Institute Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., displays model of Vanguard satellite to Mrs. Neal Jackson, president of Northridge's Women's Club, and Engineer Donald M. May, director of West Valley moonwatch station. He addressed Valley moonwatchers at meeting at Rancho San Antonio in Chatsworth."