Smithsonian Photography Initiative Celebrates the International Year of Astronomy in May and June

May 5, 2009
News Release
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During May and June, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative offers three ways to celebrate both the International Year of Astronomy and the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observation with a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

Call for Entries
The Smithsonian Photography Initiative invites the public to contribute images and stories to “click! photography changes everything,” an online exhibit that explores how photography influences every aspect of people’s lives. This month’s focus is “Seeing Other Worlds”:

  • The public may submit their photo and story about how photography influences the ability to see people, places and things “unseen” or “unfamiliar” through the contribute link on the “click!” Web site at Contributors may also share their thoughts about photos of the universe from the Chandra X-ray Observatory images available on the Smithsonian Institution’s photostream at The Commons on Flickr.
  • Selected entries will be added to the “click!” Web site, which features photos and stories from innovators, writers and public figures across multiple disciplines.
  • Entries selected for the “click!” Web site will be eligible to receive a copy of the book “At First Sight: Photography and the Smithsonian,” an intriguing glimpse into the Smithsonian’s more than 700 photographic collections.

Blog Interaction
Visit the Smithsonian’s photography blog, “THE BIGGER PICTURE” at, which presents an inside look at the Smithsonian’s photography collections and invites audiences to engage in an online discussion with guest contributors from the Smithsonian about photography’s powerful impact on the world. Throughout May and June, the blog discussions will focus on photography, astronomy and the broader notion of exploring “other worlds” to celebrate the beginning of the International Year of Astronomy. Guest bloggers will include staff from the National Museum of American History’s, National Air and Space, Smithsonian magazine and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Visit Flickr Commons
In honor of the International Year of Astronomy, new images are being added to the Smithsonian Institution’s photostream at The Commons on Flickr. The Chandra X-ray Observatory set features images made by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by the Space Shuttle Columbia July 23, 1999, and is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. Chandra has the largest, most-precisely shaped and aligned and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. It is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution and destiny of the universe. Chandra’s images are 25 times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.

About the Smithsonian Photography Initiative
The Smithsonian Photography Initiative exists to increase public understanding of the photography collections from the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers and the National Zoo. Leveraging emerging new media, SPI seeks to create new opportunities for research and scholarship about the cultural impact of photographs. Through interactive online exhibitions, publications and educational outreach, SPI is dedicated to engaging new and existing Smithsonian audiences in a dialogue about the nature and meaning of images today.

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