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5 Facts About Space & Aviation On Long Island

5 Stellar Facts About Long Island's Space & Aviation History

Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. ...Apollo 11 was a rousing success and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were able to walk on the Moon and ultimately, return to Earth. 

The Lunar Module (or LM), the famed Eagle of the Apollo program, was designed, assembled, integrated and tested by Grumman Corporation, now part of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

  • Long Island was the starting point for the first transcontinental plane flight in 1911. You can visit this spot as today's Roosevelt Field mall.
  • Grumman was a major employer on Long Island who set up manufacturing, research and testing facilities on a more than 600-acre plot in Bethpage. At Grumman's height in 1986, they employed over 23,000 people on Long Island.
  • During WWII Grumman built and delivered more than 17,000 combat planes, all built on Long Island, including the Hellcat, Tigercat, Albatross and more. Grumman's F-14 Tomcat was used in the movie Top Fun. 
    photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman archives

  •  Grumman engineers and technicians in Bethpage built all of Nasa's Lunar modules from 1961-1972. The Apollo Lunar Module (LM) was a two-stage vehicle designed by Grumman to ferry two astronauts from lunar orbit to the lunar surface and back. The upper ascent stage consisted of a pressurized crew compartment, equipment areas, and an ascent rocket engine. The lower descent stage had the landing gear and contained the descent rocket engine and lunar surface experiments. 
  • Former buildings are now being used as Grumman Studios for film-making.

Places To Learn & Discover About Long Island's Space & Aviation History

Shoot for the stars and learn more about space, the stars in our hemisphere and Long Island's lunar and aviation history at these out-of-this-world venues and organizations!

Cradle of Aviation & Education Center 

Explore over 150,000 square feet featuring 75 air and spacecraft from a hot air balloon to an actual Apollo Lunar Module and learn about Long Island's role and why we are called the Cradle of Aviation. Our eight exhibit galleries are in chronological order and throughout the museum our volunteer docents are there to share their aerospace experience. There are over 30 hands-on exhibits, a half dozen cockpits to climb into and many short films through-out the exhibits. Stop in the JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium- immersive planetarium and full-dome theater is one of the largest and most powerful virtual reality experiences in the world! 

Custer Institute & Observatory

The Custer Institute and Observatory is Long Island's oldest public observatory (est.1927). Open to the public every Saturday evening from dusk until midnight, our staff of volunteers will give you a tour of the facilities and the night sky through our powerful telescopes. Custer has a library, museum, and gift shop. Frequent lectures, classes,concerts, art exhibits and other special events. 

Vanderbilt Planetarium 

Reichert Planetarium is one of the finest and most advanced in the United States. Visitors can see programs developed by renowned international planetariums, watch Rock ‘n’ Light shows, see sky shows that recreate celestial events on the 60-foot dome, and view the night sky in the Observatory. The planetarium’s sky observatory houses both nighttime and daytime telescopes! Evening viewing takes place every Friday night at 9:00 PM and is free of charge to the visiting public. Daytime viewing of the Sun is harder to predict as it is very dependent upon clear skies and good solar activity, but we try to have it available on clear days in the afternoon when the planetarium is open. 

Montauk Observatory

The Montauk Observatory Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, designated as a 501(c)3, with a Mission to provide free year round educational programs, including astronomy lectures and professional planetarium shows. The goal is to build a wonderful observatory building on the East End of Long Island for its state-of-the-art professional grade telescope and to provide discovery programs accessible via the internet. 

The American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport

Some sixty five years ago, the current home of the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport was a crucial part of the “Arsenal of Democracy”. Home to Republic Aviation, the complex produced over 9,000 P-47 Thunderbolts in Farmingdale. Enjoy the hangar museum and up-close aircraft viewing. For the more adventurous, you can arrange for a flight experience in one of the vintage aircraft. 

Astronomical Society of Long Island

The Astronomical Society of Long Island is one of the more active groups in the New York Metropolitan Area. We are a group of dedicated amateur astronomers and telescope makers with a passion for our hobby, and a willingness to share our knowledge and excitement of the hobby with others, both experienced, and those who may have just discovered the hobby. Please come join us at our meetings, and enjoy the view through our telescopes at our observing sessions. 

Best Places To See The Stars Without Technology

  • Crescent Beach, Shelter Island- No streetlights and Shelter Island's further distance from heavy light pollution make this spot a great place to see some celestial sights. 
  • Montauk Point State Park, Montauk-  Approximately 120 miles from New York City, this park where permit is required, has some of the best star sightings. No permit? No problem- find yourself below a velvet sky dotted with bright stars. Montauk is Long Island's furthest point from NYC which makes it an ideal location.  

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Events 

  • June-August- The Cradle of Aviation commemorates this unique event with "Countdown to Apollo at 50" with program highlights including a new exhibit (through August 2019), museum visits from astronauts, scientists, and aerospace professionals, live astronomy shows, film screening and more! 
  • 6/29- Gold Coast Arts Center/Cradle of Aviation- event will include a screening of the Academy Award–winning film First Man, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, followed by a live Q&A with retirees from Northrop Grumman and Grumman, who will share their personal stories of working on the Apollo program right here on Long Island.   
  • 7/11- Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium- a special tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing with cocktails, dinner, dancing and video montage of the first moon landing in the theater. 
  • 7/19-21- Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium- Capcom Go! a full-dome immersive planetarium show produced by NSC Creative. The show will be playing multiple times between July 19th and 21st.
  •  7/20- Custer Institute- Celebrating the Apollo 50th Anniversary- Lecture- Observing the Moon
  • 7/20- Patchogue Theatre- Special Event, Apollo 11
  • 7/20- Montauk Observatory at Stony Brook University/Southampton Campus- Apollo 11 Lunar Landing- 50th Anniversary Celebration
  • 7/20- Long Island Children's Museum- Apollopalooza- Come celebrate the anniversary of this momentous step in space history as you learn about astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, explore rocket science, and more! 
  • 7/20- Sagamore Hill- Astronomy Night-These events include nightly presentations on the magnificent celestial events you can plan to see and stargazing through telescopes about the grounds. 
  • 7/21- Patchogue Theatre- Long Island Concert Orchestra Moon Landing Celebration Concert 
  • 7/21- Long Island Children's Museum- STEM Discoveries: The Moon

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