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 February 18, 1958 reads "Surveyors Harman Rasnow and Al Cocking check over data obtained from tellurometer to exactly located position of Woodland Hills Moonwatch station. To observers it is at 4443 San Blas Ave., but to surveyors and scientists plotting satellite orbits it is longitude 118 degrees, 35 minutes, 53.2008 seconds and latitude, 34 degrees, nine minutes, 5.9035 seconds. This 'fix,' obtained by microwaves, is size of pinhead." A tellurometer is a microwave electronic distance measurement device.